NBC New York
The parents of a 13-year-old New Jersey boy named Muhammed are taking legal action against his school, saying officials have done nothing about the anti-Muslim bullying he has endured for years. Brian Thompson reports.
The parents of a 13-year-old New Jersey boy named Muhammed are taking legal action against his school, saying officials have done nothing about the anti-Muslim bullying he has endured for years.
"His name is Muhammed, you don't get more Muslim than that," said his father, Mustafa Muhsin, 41, in an exclusive interview with NBC New York.
Muhsin and his wife Dina Mustafa, both Iraqi-born, have a lawyer and have filed a notice of claim against the Westwood Regional School System after what they called years of unanswered complaints over the bullying their son has suffered because of his name.
Westwood Middle School Principal Charles Seipp said confidentiality laws prevented him from discussing Muhammed's case.
The boy's parents described several incidents of bullying at his Westwood, N.J. middle school, sometimes physical, including a recent one in which two boys egged on another to ask their son if he was a terrorist.
Last year, it became so serious they asked Muhammed if he wanted to change his name.
"And he said 'No, I'm an American, my name is Muhammed, it's who I am. Why do I have to change for them, they should accept me for who I am,'" Muhsin said.
Seipp said his school has had to deal with 10 bullying cases since September, adding that the school has an aggressive anti-bullying policy.
"We haven't run any specific programs about ethnicity, race, culture, things like that," Seipp said. "We have run multiple programs about tolerance in general."
Seipp said the goal is to create positive social behavior among the 450 sixth- and seventh-graders at his school.
Family attorney Silvana Raso said whatever the school is doing, it isn't working.
"The question is, 'Has the harassment, bullying stopped?'" Raso said. "The answer is an unequivocal 'No.'"
Muhsin, who fled Iraq with his wife in 1996, called the bullying over his son's name "un-American" and the "antithesis of what America stands for."
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