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Mother says children face anti-Muslim bullying

Posted at 9:30 PM, Mar 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-16 21:30:56-04

A mother of two Williamsville East High School students recently suspended says that an Instagram post and anti-Muslim comments lead to a fight at school.

Williamsville East is a diverse school, which is part of why Rehab Siam says this is so surprising. The school even celebrated cultural differences last week.

However, Siam said that tensions over religious differences lead to a few fights in the last year.

"Stop the bullying," Siam said. "Take care of the problem, and let the kids get an education because that's what school is for."

Siam says that her sons have been picked on by several students because they are Muslim.

The mother said this has brought to light issues of bullying that many children face in school.

"Whether they're African American, whether they're Christian, whether they're Jewish -- bullying knows no color," Siam said.

The East Amherst mother, a Buffalo native, has reported attempted fights to police. She also has reported comparisons several students made about her children with terrorists to Williamsville East High School.

However, she claims not enough was done.

A picture posted on Instagram by one of the students who allegedly targeted Siam's sons for their religion depicted the words "Siam Slayer."

The student who posted the picture and Siam's sons were suspended after things got physical.

Siam did not defend her children fighting, and said that should never have been the answer. However, she also believes the school could have stepped in earlier.

On March 12th, eggs and a rock were thrown at the Siam family home. That has the family on edge.

"They came to my home," Siam said. "Who knows what else they can do, what they are capable of." Siam added that she does not know who was behind the egging or if it had relation to the incidents at school. However, she believes that it was racially motivated.

Amherst Police confirm they have opened an investigation into the incident. The FBI has also been made aware of it.

The Buffalo native said that she never felt targeted because of her ethnicity until recently. Siam said her friends have noticed an uptick in racial tensions due to their religion.

" We're looked at with disgust in our community -- in Williamsville. And it's horrible to feel that way," Siam said.

Siam blamed the initial increase in tensions on the rise of ISIL. However, she added that rhetoric by Presidential Candidate Donald Trump has added fuel to the fire.

"It just makes people think these people are horrible," Siam said. "But we're not horrible people."

Siam has hired Michael Berger, an immigration attorney, to help get her children back to school. Berger emphasizes that they are not looking to file a lawsuit or get money -- they simply want the boys to go back to class.

As an immigration lawyer, Berger has also noticed a trend of increasing intolerance with his clients.

"Their acceptance in the community is not as open as I think it was 10 years ago," he said.

Berger also points to New York's Dignity for All Students Act, a law enacted to crack down on stigmatizing students.

"If we avoid situations, we all know that they escalate into something much more significant," Berger said. "And they did escalate last week."

Williamsville Central School District's Superintendent, Scott Martzloff, released a statement, saying:

"As you may be aware, we are prohibited by law from discussing student-specific disciplinary matters. The District takes harassment, bullying, insensitive or intolerant behavior very seriously. We are committed to prevention, and are continuously focused on outreach and education for students, families and staff. We remain vigilant and respond immediately to any and all violations of our code of conduct. Any behavior that compromises our commitment to a safe and caring school environment is unacceptable."