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ATLANTA: Members of the US-Muslim community in the US state of Virginia criticized the Fairfax City Police Department for mismanaging an attack on a 16-year-old Muslim high school student and refusing to call the case a hate crime .

The student was reportedly the victim of Islamophobic and racist slurs before being physically assaulted and her hijab taken from her by another student at Fairfax High School in Fairfax City, a suburb of Washington, DC

According to local reports, police said their investigation determined that there had been no racist or Islamophobic slurs against the victim and that her hijab had not been forcibly removed by the victim. student during the attack.

But according to numerous witnesses and the victim’s legal representative, she suffered Islamophobic slurs and was assaulted by another student.

Several members of the American-Muslim community in the region who were familiar with the case told Arab News that they feared the police might be engaged in a cover-up because they misinterpreted the victim’s words in such a way as to make them feel unresponsive. make it appear like a fight between two students. . They also said the police did not interview any witnesses before making their decision.

The largest Arab-American civil rights organization, the Arab-American Committee against Discrimination, which took on the case to represent the victim, rejected the police findings and insisted that the incident constituted a “hate crime” against the Muslim student.

ADC legal and political director Abed Ayoub told Arab News he strongly disagrees with the police department’s decision on the incident.

He said he had several phone calls with police officials and met with the victim’s family as part of the legal assistance the ADC provides to her and her family.

Ayoub said from a legal perspective, targeting the victim because of his hijab is enough to be considered a hate crime, and comments are not necessary to elevate this incident to a hate crime.

The victim told local media that she was physically assaulted, pushed to the ground, and a school student forcibly ripped off her hijab.

She said two of her classmates were making Islamophobic and racist comments against her when one grabbed her hijab and continued to beat her despite his efforts to defend himself.

She added that one of the students pushed her and pushed her onto desks and chairs, causing her chest and shoulder injuries and difficulty breathing. She was then taken to the hospital for examination.

The student said the school was trying to cover up the incident by calling it a fight and describing her chest pain as “a panic attack”.

She added that the school even punished her by forcing her to stay in the same room as her attacker.

Abrar Omeish, a US-Muslim member of the Fairfax County School Board, told Arab News that the incident is “unfortunately far too common and widespread in our schools.”

She said: “I can’t wait to see how this painful moment turns into system-wide action moving forward.”

Ayoub said: “Many witnesses testified that the victim’s hijab was forcibly removed during the altercation. Witnesses also corroborated the victim’s statement that students in the class used racist and Islamophobic drawings and that the author made racist comments before the attack. This has been shared several times with the police.

Arab News called the school and the person who answered the phone confirmed the incident had taken place but declined to comment further.

The Muslim Student Association issued a statement denouncing the attack on the Muslim student, claiming that the police “misrepresented” the victim’s statement by disseminating a “false story”.

The MSA demanded that mandatory training be provided to teachers and administrators on supporting Muslim students, “dispelling underlying Islamophobic tropes.”

The incident prompted hundreds of students from the school to come out in protest on behalf of the Muslim student, chanting “justice now” and “end the hatred”.

The next day, hundreds of students from five other high schools in the region also left their schools in solidarity with the victim.

A Change.org petition in favor of the victim and to hold the school accountable has so far collected more than 28,000 signatures.

Calls and messages have been left with the city police department for comment on the incident, but have not been returned at the time of this article’s publication.

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