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Father of Muslim teen brutally beaten by other students says it was a hate crime, police disagree

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Manaal Munshi, the 14-year-old girl being bullied and beaten by a group of high school girls, while her fellow classmates just stood around and watched was still in the hospital recovering from her injuries as of Saturday.

Video of the incident went viral after the girl's father, Shakeel Munshi, posted it on Facebook claiming his daughter was attacked "because she was Muslim."

He spoke to our affiliate WPEC and said he decided to share the video in an effort to make sure what happened to his daughter doesn't happen to anyone else.

"She said she was getting text messages, and bullying messages from these girls,” he said.

Munshi says his daughter had been harassed and teased for being Muslim before, which he says they reported to the school.

“Sometimes she says that they make fun of her because she is a Muslim, calling her terrorist, and I used to tell her don’t take it serious, they’re just making fun of you,” Munshi said.

But the most recent incident put his daughter in the hospital.

“She had bruises on the face, neck, head. My wife just took her to the doctor because she could not eat,” Munshi said.

The Palm Beach County Police Department is investigating the case but claims it's not a hate crime.

On Friday the sheriff's office rejected the idea the attack was motivated by the girl's religion. "At NO time was 'race' or 'bullying' ever discussed, determined or considered to have played a role in the altercation," they wrote.

Deputies say the fight started after a dispute between Manaal and a girl from another school over a boy and Manaal had been under the impression the girls were meeting to "talk."

"On Thursday, December 21, 2017, two students agreed to meet over an ongoing dispute," they wrote. "The victim, student from West Boca Raton HS, was under the impression the two were meeting to 'talk'. The suspect, student from Olympic Heights HS apparently told the victim she wanted to meet to fight. The victim agreed to meet anyway."

“The whole audience thing, the whole aspect of it, is really what’s at the core of bullying.”

Dr. Raphi Wald is a psychologist in Palm Beach, Florida. He says he's worried the impact on those involved could last forever.

“As more and more people find out about it, the person who committed the assault becomes humiliated. And hopefully remorseful for what they did. And the person who was assaulted is humiliated. We’re not 100% sure that’s how she feels, but we wouldn’t be surprised if she was,” said Dr. Wald.

In a statement to CBS12, Palm Beach County School Superintendent Dr. Robert Avossa said: I am sadden by this senseless act of violent. I am further concerned about the individuals who stood by to videotape the incident, instead of coming to the assistance of their peers by calling 911.

“It’s a little bit of a take on peer pressure, you don’t want to be the person that sticks out. You want to be like everyone else, so you go along with it.” Dr. Wald continued, “the whole audience thing, the whole aspect of it, is really what’s at the core of bullying.”
Deputies say at no time was race or bullying ever discussed or considered to play a role in the altercation.

"Muslim students are bullied at twice the rate as the national average.

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The Council on Islamic Relations (CAIR) confirmed that they were aware of the case and on Friday released the following statement:

"CAIR-Florida receives numerous complaints of school bullying incidents and serious assaults against Muslim youth at a constantly increasing rate. We have reached out to the victim's family and will ensure that this serious issue is addressed swiftly and appropriately by local officials," said CAIR-Florida Civil Rights Counsel Omar Saleh.

CAIR’s California chapter recently published a report documenting faith-based bullying and discrimination of Muslim students in California Schools. The report reveals that Muslim students are bullied at twice the rate as the national average."

You can read the full report here.

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