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Muslim College Student Reports Sexual Harassment, Gets Reported To FBI For Terrorism And Expelled

22 January 2012 ThinkProgress 10 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

Muslim College Student Reports Sexual Harassment, Gets Reported To FBI For Terrorism And Expelled

By Tanya Somanader (ThinkProgress)

In 2008, African-American Muslim student Balayla Ahmad enrolled in Connecticut’s University of Bridgeport with hopes of becoming a chiropractor. Instead, she became of a victim of sexual harassment. Distressed by the repeated sexual advances and “graphic offensive comments” of a male student, Ahmad reported the harassment and “fears for her safety” to multiple teachers, who urged her to say nothing, and finally the university’s president and dean. The dean told Ahmad, “My hands are tied. What do you suggest I do?”

Rather than having her claims addressed, Ahmad received allegations of her own. Learning of her report, Ahmad’s harasser decided to falsely accuse her of terrorism to the FBI. And rather than fully investigate what was happening, the University of Bridgeport just expelled Ahmad altogether:

After reporting the sexual harassment in April 2009, Ahmad said she was approached by two university security directors who told her someone had made allegations against her and they threatened to call the FBI and have her arrested.

Later, two FBI agents knocked on Ahmad’s apartment door, questioned her and left a business card, according to the lawsuit. She said she learned that her harasser or his associates had fabricated a story falsely accusing her of being a terrorist in apparent retaliation for having made a sexual harassment complaint against him.

“Ahmad was racially profiled and discriminated against because of her race, color and ethnic identity as an African American Muslim and labeled a terrorist based on false accusations provided by the harasser and adopted without adequate investigation by the university,” the lawsuit states.

Ahmad asked that the university provide her with an off-site proctor for her exams, but she said the university told her in April 2009 that her sexual harassment complaint had been closed and that she was being referred to a disciplinary committee. In June, she said the university dismissed her.

Ahmad filed a lawsuit against the university last week for failing to investigate her claims, instead showing “deliberate indifference” to her plight. The lawsuit claims that the college even “recklessly disseminated false accusations by the harasser that they had good reason to believe were unreliable and threatened her with arrest by the FBI.”

Ahmad’s lawyer, Bradford Conover noted that because Ahmad regularly wears the hijab, she was easily targeted for her religion. “[B]ecause of that, she ended up getting targeted based on some reckless accusations against her,” Conover said. “They never investigated it. Had they done so, they would have discovered the accusations against her were false and she had been subject to sexual harassment.”

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10 Comments »

  1. Biased much?

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  3. Maybe the teachers urged her to say nothing because she had flimsy evidence?

  4. And on what basis are you making such an accusation, Anon? Have you read anything pointing you to such a conclusion, or is it simpler to assume that she was being uppity?

  5. I think he was trying to goad her into making a move and she didn’t have enough evidence or witnesses to make the charge stick.

    If one is going to make a charge like this, one needs to collect evidence. Video, audio or a person maybe hiding in the room to overhear him.

  6. @anon:

    right. Because obviously its completely normal for someone to sexually asault someone else in complete daylight. wtf.

  7. Just revoked my application to Bridgeport. Not that it was one of my top choices anyway…

  8. I’d hate to know how many loops you expect victims of sexual harassment to jump through before anyone starts taking their claims seriously, anon. Though I’m well aware of the incidence of false accusations of this sort, I still see it as suspicious that your primary concern is whether or not she was in any position to seek protection.

  9. Is that what youd say to a non muslim girl who was sexually assaulted/raped.
    Ofc you wouldnt. Its not easy documenting that. You cant just expect it to happen. When i leave the house i dont think “am i going to be raped today?” and wonder if i should take my camera just in case!
    This is the kind of talk that is used to blame victims.

  10. She could have set a trap for him.

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