Letters of support pour in for threatened Muslim girl, 10

In this Nov. 14, 2018, photo, Jamaal Siddiqui, center, uncle of a student at the Hemenway Elementary School in Framingham, Mass., who received threatening notes, talks with reporters in Framingham. (AP)
Updated 30 November 2018
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Letters of support pour in for threatened Muslim girl, 10

  • School officials say she received threatening notes in her classroom storage bin
  • The council encouraged people to send letters to the girl to “counteract the hateful message”

BOSTON: A Muslim girl in Massachusetts has received hundreds of letters of support after receiving threatening notes at her elementary school.
The Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said that as of Thursday, it had received more than 500 notes from across the country for the 10-year-old.
The girl, whose name officials haven’t released, is in fifth grade at Hemenway Elementary School in Framingham, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Boston.
School officials say she received threatening notes in her classroom storage bin on two occasions this month. One note said, “You are a terrorist.” The other read, “I will kill you.”
Sumaiya Zama, the Massachusetts chapter’s director of community advocacy, said she’s “incredibly heartened” by the outpouring of support, particularly the “powerful messages” people from different faiths shared.
“Despite the climate of animosity and fear that so many Muslims face today, it’s clear that we have allies,” she said in a statement.
School officials, who had condemned the threats at the time and called for the culprit to step forward, didn’t comment Thursday. Framingham police said the case is still active.
The girl’s uncle, Jamaal Siddiqui, said at a news conference after the notes were discovered that the experience frightened his niece.
“She’s scared,” he said at the time. “She has all the right to be scared.”
The council encouraged people to send letters to the girl to “counteract the hateful message.”
Since then, letters have poured in from more than 20 states, including Hawaii, the council said.
A sampling of the notes provided by the council show handwritten messages with colorful illustrations and cheerful designs.
A note from a 6-year-old named Sophie shows an illustration of two people of different races holding hands and smiling. It reads: “Dear friend, people of all religions should be friends.”
Another message, from Mary B. in Springfield, Massachusetts, is written on multicolored paper with hearts all around it: “You are loved. You belong.”
And the Cade family wrote in a note that included a drawing of a tree, flowers and vegetables: “A Jewish family from Maryland is sending you love and support. You are wonderful!”
The council said it plans to deliver the messages to the girl’s family next week.
School districts in Massachusetts have been grappling with a rash of bigoted acts this year.
In the Boston suburb of Reading, officials have reported more than two dozen cases of swastikas and other hateful graffiti targeting minorities since May.


Portugal suspends visas for Iranians for 'security reasons'

Updated 16 July 2019
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Portugal suspends visas for Iranians for 'security reasons'

  • Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said Portugal does not play around with entry into its territory

LISBON: Portugal has suspended the issuance of entry visas for Iranian nationals for unspecified security reasons, Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.
Answering a question from a committee member on whether such a move had been taken, Santos Silva said during the televised meeting: “Yes, we suspended those for security reasons ... I will provide explanations later, but not publicly.”
“Portugal does not play around with entry into its territory,” he added, without disclosing when the decision was taken.
The chairman declared the meeting closed after about two hours without further off-camera testimony.
Joao Goncalves Pereira, the lawmaker from the conservative CDS-PP party who asked the question, told Reuters: “We received information that visas for Iranians had been suspended for two or three weeks, and we just wanted to confirm that.”
He would not say what was the source of that original information or whether any Iranian nationals had complained about the situation.
Foreign ministry officials had no immediate comment and nobody was available for comment in the Iranian embassy in Lisbon.