“I’m done with the U.S.,” Zeeshan-ul-hassan Usmani’s wife told him on Friday. Seeing her youngest son, just 7 years old, walk off the school bus bruised and battered that afternoon outside their apartment building in Cary, North Carolina, was the final straw.
HUFFPOST Little Abdul Aziz, a first-grader and the youngest child of Usmani and Binish Bhagwanee, was traumatized. He told his parents a classmate had tried to force him to eat food that wasn’t halal. (Oh, NOES!) When Abdul Aziz refused, he claims five of his classmates allegedly ganged up on him, making fun of his name. He said they punched him in the face, kicked him in the stomach, and twisted his arm while calling him “Muslim” again and again, Usmani said. (Somehow, no witnesses saw this)
“He was born and raised in the United States. As American as you can think of (Hardly, Muslims are never real Americans). He likes Captain America. He wants to be president of the United States of America,” Usmani told The Huffington Post on Tuesday, speaking over Skype from Pakistan. (Sorry, we’ve had more than enough of having a Muslim as president)
Bhagwanee landed in Islamabad on Monday with their three sons. Usmani has an apartment there, and it’s where they all plan to live now, because America doesn’t feel safe. “It’s not the America we know about, care about and want to live in,” he said.
Usmani remembers his middle son, 8 years old, being very angry one day after being picked up from school. Apparently his classmates had told him his dad ― a Pakistani man with a beard ― was a terrorist. “He asked me if I was a terrorist,” Usmani recalled. After that, Bhagwanee asked him not to go to the school anymore, “just so my children would not face any discrimination because of my face.”
After Abdul Aziz walked off the school bus Friday, Usmani said he and Bhagwanee reported the incident to the school. Lisa Luten, a spokeswoman for Wake County Public School System, said Principal Tim Chadwick immediately launched an investigation into the alleged attack, but said that initial interviews with other students and the bus driver didn’t corroborate Abdul Aziz’s version of events. No students on the bus, nor the bus driver, reported seeing an altercation, Luten said. One student, however, did remember seeing “play-fighting” on the bus.
Luten also said the Usmani family did not report that students made references to Islam, Muslims and Pakistan, as designated terrorist group CAIR Council on American-Islamic Relations claims they did in a Monday press release.
But in an email Usmani sent to Chadwick early Tuesday, he explained that he had talked to Abdul Aziz “in detail” about the alleged attack. “The kids who beat him up mentioned Muslims, makes fun of his name starts with Abdul and reference his preference of eating only certain (halal) food,” Usmani wrote. “My son is very traumatized and shocked as he has just celebrated his birthday with his classmates few days ago.”
When Usmani’s other son brought a knife into school that his dad had bought in Pakistan, students called him “ISIS” and “terrorist.” The school went on lockdown and he was suspended for six months, Usmani said. He added that the experience was traumatic for his son, who’s been homeschooled ever since and now suffers from depression and anxiety.
Usmani said his family had planned on moving out of Cary anyway, perhaps to Berkeley, California, where his current employer is based. But after what happened to Abdul Aziz on the school bus, Bhagwanee decided it was time to go back to Pakistan.
He also said his family would consider moving back to the U.S. if Donald Trump loses the election next month. They would “absolutely” feel safer in the U.S. if Trump loses, Usmani said.