Free Press Journal

Special needs student gets IS ‘tag’ in school


Uppal was forced to falsely confess ISIS allegiance in US after school authorities interrogated him; family sues schools for $25 million      

New York: A 12-year-old Pakistani-American special needs student was forced by a school here to sign a false confession stating that he was part of ISIS and wanted to blow up the school fence, according to a USD 25 million lawsuit filed by his family.

The Muslim family from Long Island has sued the East Islip Union Free School District for USD 25 million, saying their son Nashwan Uppal was taunted by his classmates as a “terrorist” and then was asked repeatedly by school officials if he was a terrorist, if he made bombs, if he knew who “Osama” was and if he was part of ISIS.

Also Read: Hijab-clad Muslim women assaulted, called ‘ISIS’ in US

The lawsuit, which was filed in Brooklyn federal court on Monday, claims Uppal, a Pakistani-American student, was sitting in the lunchroom of the East Islip Middle School on January 6 when other kids started asking him what he was going to “blow up next”, the New York Post reported.

Uppal, who has severe learning and social disabilities, attempted to move to another table as adults in the lunchroom did nothing, according to the lawsuit, but the bullies followed him and continued their Islamophobic taunts.

The suit says, the next day, Uppal was pulled from gym class by Superintendent John Dolan, Principal Mark Bernard and Assistant Principal Jason Stanton, and interrogated.

“Stanton repeatedly asked Nashwan if he was a terrorist, and if he made bombs in his house,” the suit says. When he said no, an increasingly irate Stanton allegedly bellowed, “Don’t lie to us!”

A trembling Uppal was forced to write a confession saying he was “part of ISIS, knew how to make bombs, that he had bombs in his house, and that he was going to blow up the school fence,” the suit alleges.

Officials eventually let him call his mother, Nubaisha Amar, who was told her son had pledged allegiance to ISIS and was going to blow up the school. Police escorted mother and son back to their home before searching the entire house and concluding he was no threat. However, Uppal was suspended for a week for “criminal activity”.

Also Read: ‘ISIS militants shave beards, dress as women to escape Ramadi’

Attorney David Antwork said the boy was emotionally scarred.

“The defendants trampled on…Nashwan’s civil rights, berated and humiliated him by forcing Nashwan to confess to crimes which he did not commit while ignoring the fact that he was incessantly bullied and had known social, language and learning disabilities,” Antwork was quoted as saying.

The lawsuit also claims that Uppal suffered from “severe and extreme emotional distress” including “nightmares, sleeplessness, crying, fear, humiliation and stress” as a result of the incident.