Lawyer for Muslim student disputes Fairfax police statement that recent fight wasn’t a hate crime

A recent fight at Fairfax High School started as a hate crime, according to the lawyer for the student who said she was attacked.

Abed Ayoub, legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, who represents a 16-year-old Black, Muslim American sophomore at Fairfax High School, says the Fairfax City Police were premature in ruling out hate crime charges.

“There’s multiple witnesses who can attest to racist and Islamophobic comments and overtures being made immediately prior to the incident into the assault,” Ayoub said.

He said his client spent the evening following the fight in the emergency room and that medical reports showing contusions and bruises were given to police.

Ayoub also said that when the student went into school the next day, she was “immediately told ‘you’re serving in-school suspension.’ And, on top of that, she served in-school suspension in the same room with the perpetrator, which is unheard of.”

WTOP has contacted Fairfax City police for comment on the lawyer’s remarks.

Police said previously that the investigation is ongoing, but there was no evidence of a hate crime or any racial comments made by either student.

According to a news release from the City of Fairfax Police Department, the student told police that posts on social media sites claiming racial comments were used during the altercation are false.

Ayoub says the whole incident began with a targeted, racially-motivated attack during a class exercise.

“The group that included the perpetrator were drawing … the symbols of Islam, like the moon and the crescent, and were putting Xs through it.”

He said witnesses heard people in the group make Islamophobic and racist comments.

Ayoub said that when his client went to tell the teacher about the group’s actions, another student, “grabbed her by the neck, and by the scarf, and yanked at it and pushed her.”

Ayoub said that the family of his client appreciates the support of students bringing attention to the case.

On Thursday morning, hundreds of students from Fairfax High School walked out in protest to show support for Ayoub’s client.

“It’s the students that brought attention to this, and we need to remember that,” Ayoub said. “We need to empower them and realize the important role they played in standing up for one of their own.”

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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