NEW YORK – A high school senior in Missouri, Alex Lonsdale, served a two-day in-school suspension for allegedly calling a fellow Muslim student, a terrorist.
It all started when Lonsdale and Faraz Pervaiz got into a debate about the nature of Islam after Lonsdale told The College Fix that he had based his claims off of polls conducted by ICM Research for the 2016 Channel 4 documentary about pro-terrorist sentiment among British Muslims.
However, the friendly debate turned into an argument when Pervaiz asked Lonsdale “why are you making my religion out to be like that?”
Pervaiz then became quiet and left as Lonsdale told him “‘I wasn’t saying that you’re a bad kid because you’re Islamic,’ I wasn’t being rude. I didn’t personally attack him at all,” he told The College Fix.
Both students have had experience debating policy issues in the school’s debate club: Lonsdale and his debate partner shared a semifinal placement at the Grain Valley High School New Year Novice Kickoff this year, while Pervaiz and his partner tied for first in policy debate at a high school tournament in December 2016, according to The Kansas City Star.
The school’s debate team currently ranks second in the nation by the National Debate & Speech Association, where Liberty High School competes annually during its national competition.
According to the College Fix, Lonsdale was called into the principal’s office three days later and was asked to explain the statements that Pervaiz said he had made including that “all Muslims are terrorists.”
School officials accused Lonsdale of “creating an emotionally unsafe zone” and told him that his behavior could be considered “harassing” or “hounding” and that he should be conscious of “social cues.”
After school officials interviewed three other student witnesses, Lonsdale was assigned to serve an in-school suspension the rest of the day and the following day however, he was still allowed to attend some of his Advanced Placement classes.
The school said that Lonsdale was not entitled to an appeal, though Assistant Principal Bridget Herrman gave him a letter containing the “necessary information about the suspension,” and sent one to his parents stating that he was suspended “due to behavior” and had been prescribed “corrective disciplinary action.”
“I don’t know why that kid [Pervaiz] didn’t just walk away if it made him uncomfortable,” Carrie Lonsdale, Alex’s mother, told the College Fix.
Miles, a student who witnessed the debate, slipped a handwritten letter to Lonsdale saying “you initiated a 35-minute conversation trying to prove that Faraz’s entire religion was about terrorism, you need to apologize for what you did and how you made Faraz feel.”
After the incident Lonsdale applied to the Missouri University of Science and Technology, and has been accepted regardless of his actions, he plans to study engineering or physics and will abstain from further spirited debates about religion.