Saturday, June 16, 2007

Interesting News

I wanted to post the whole story below because its worth reading for a couple of reasons. The first reason is to show that discrimination is still prevlant - even in the multiculturally diverse NYC - this is Staten Island - not South Carolina. However, I found this story a little disturbing because the parents of Osama changed his name to "Sammy" ... thats right, SAMMY!?

Sammy is ok name if your a Dominican baseball player for the Texas Rangers but for Muslim... not really. Personally, I've hate it when Muslims introduce themselves as Westernized nicknames of their Islamic names (i.e. Mo for Muhammad, Manny for Usman, etc.) but this an entire name change done by the Parents. Parents are suppose to show support for their children in tough times. Instead, here we see the boy wanting to keep his name as Osama and the parents caving into the pressures.

I give the brother props, I know H.S. is really tough in America with all these social pressures - I hope that he does chnage his name back to Osama eventually.

Tough times for Island boy named Osama

Family files suit over alleged harassment at Tottenville H.S. that nearly caused suicide

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- A Staten Island teen said yesterday he was taunted and harassed for more than two years by Tottenville High School teachers and personnel, sending the one-time honors student into suicidal bouts of depression, all because he shares his first name with 9/11 terrorist Osama Bin Laden.

Jordanian-born Osama Al-Najjar, 16, of Rosebank -- whose parents have since changed his name to "Sammy" against his wishes -- is seeking unspecified financial damages against the city and the Department of Education, alleging that Tottenville administrators acknowledged his plight in private meetings with his parents but did nothing to stop it.

"They did not deny it," asserted his mother, Suad Abuhasna. Rather, she said, a Tottenville assistant principal suggested she enroll Osama in an Islamic school.

Osama's father, Bassam Al-Najjar, said he and his wife wrote letters appealing for help to Rep. Vito Fossella, City Councilman James Oddo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to no avail.

What's more, at a press conference in his attorney's Manhattan office, Osama and his parents said the tormenting by teachers and school security guards made them fearful and sent them fleeing upstate for a time. Osama also tried to slit his wrists, placed a cord around his neck and self-medicated.

The lawsuit, filed in Brooklyn federal court, alleges that a gym teacher at the Huguenot school mocked Osama, saying, "I thought you were in a cave somewhere."

Another time, a security guard told him, "We don't want Bin Laden's son in our school."

And two math teachers verbally abused Osama because of his name, including one who repeatedly called him "Bin Laden" and advised him he'd never receive a passing grade.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Omar Mohammedi, says Osama was the subject of "racial profiling" while at Tottenville High and was "maliciously harassed and discriminated against" by school staff, leaving his "welfare greatly endangered."

Mohammedi said Osama's teacher tormentors "should have been suspended right away."

Calls left at Tottenville High School and Board of Education offices seeking comment went unreturned yesterday.

When the harassment first began, Osama said he regarded it as "stupid stuff, to get my attention." He said, for example, that his gym teacher routinely mocked him "in front of the whole class."

Only one teacher, his ninth-grade math teacher, later apologized, he said.

Osama said at first he wanted to live up to his parents' credo "to give respect to my teachers." Later, he tried to argue with teachers seemingly bent on tormenting him. In the end, he would call his mother and ask to be picked up from school.

Eventually, Osama's grades plummeted and he said he did not want to return to school.

He "withdrew from everything," said his mother, "kept in his room" and "couldn't sleep."

"I used to stay up all night wondering what is going to happen to him," added Ms. Abuhasna. "Being a Muslim is not a crime."

Osama said he had friends at school and that his classmates were generally supportive.

He left Tottenville High School in March 2006, and has since transferred to Telecommunications High School for Art and Technology in Bay Ridge, which the family said has a special program for students with "school phobias."

Osama, dressed in jeans, sneakers and a polo shirt, seemed uneasy with all the media attention. However, he made it clear that it was his parents' idea to change his first name to Sammy. He said he still thinks of himself as Osama and suggested he might change it back when he turns 18.

"I didn't want to change my name," said Osama, who aspires to be a lawyer. "If it was up to me, I'd have that name now."

Ms. Abuhasna, who wears a gold letter "O" around her neck, said she still thinks of her son as Osama, the name bestowed on him by his grandfather.

She added that she initially wanted Osama to attend Tottenville High School because it was a "good school" with an honors program.

After the press conference, Ms. Abuhasna told the Advance that when she and her family first moved to Staten Island from Brooklyn three years ago, "we did not have any problems."

But she said after their problems began at Tottenville High, friends on the Island told her "they had faced problems if they were Arab, Muslim, Jewish, black."

"I don't think it is so welcoming," said Ms. Abuhasna. "I don't think they want it to be mixed."

She said that while she wants to move back to Brooklyn, her family says "you can't run away."

The case is slated to be heard July 12.


At 10:14 AM, Blogger zanjabil said...

"9/11 terrorist Osama Bin Laden"???

So, Usama has become one of the "nineteen Arab hijackers" now?

A curious fact: the FBI do not list Usama bin Laden as a 9/11 suspect, due to lack of evidence...

Check it out.


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