It's not easy being Osama.
For a Staten Island teenager, it has meant torment at the hands of his teachers and classmates - some repeatedly referring to him as "bin Laden."
"I thought you were in the back of a cave somewhere," a gym teacher at Tottenville HS once said to Osama Al-Najjar (photo right) during roll call, according to a lawsuit filed in Brooklyn federal court claiming racial and religious discrimination.
When Al-Najjar, 16, enrolled in the prestigious school three years ago, he was an honors student with a "peaceful" demeanor, said his mother, Suad Abuhasna.
But when his ninth-grade math teacher started calling the Muslim teen of Palestinian descent "bin Laden" - and a security guard told him "we don't want bin Laden's son in our school" - his cheery outlook began to change, she said.
When she asked him what was wrong, Osama said his teachers thought he was a terrorist.
Abuhasna alerted school officials, but they ignored her, she said, and things got worse.
His new math teacher, "Ms. Isola," said he might as well stop coming to class because he would never pass, the suit says. She refused to call on him, and always referred to him as "bin Laden," the court papers say.
Osama was beaten up at school by two students, and an assistant principal told Abuhasna to put her son in an Islamic school, the suit states....
In March 2006, Osama cut out of school and disappeared.
Then, in July, while talking to his mom, he suddenly broke a CD and began slicing at his wrist. While his mother called a psychiatrist, Osama tied a cord around his neck and threatened to kill himself, the suit says. [Link]
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