Tariq Abukhedir is a former student of mine. I used to be the librarian at Universal Academy of Florida, a private Islamic school in Tampa, FL.
I was shocked, sickened, and horrified when a former co-worker posted a photo of Tariq badly beaten on her Facebook page. This was someone's child, he lived in Tampa, and that alone made me upset. At first I did not realize that I knew him, because he was unrecognizable. I knew the name, but honestly I know a lot of Tariq's and I know a lot of Abukhedir's.
It wasn't until I saw this photo that I put two and two together and realized that I did in fact know Tariq, and I was his teacher for two years.
This is the Tariq that I knew. The goofy, smiling, funny boy that loved basketball, and asked me a million questions about computer technology. He himself knew A LOT about computers, and was always grilling me.
I can't make any claims about knowing what happened when he was in Palestine. I don't know. I only know what the news is reporting.
Earlier this morning I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Talk Radio WFLA970.
They asked me about how Tariq was as a student. I explained that Tariq loved to read books about basketball. He was always kind. Never rude.
Last week on Saturday night the Muslim community held a candlelight vigil for Tariq. I was unable to attend. But I was there in spirit, and in pizza. I sent pizza to the group for when they broke their fast. It was the least I could do. Feeding a Muslim when they break their fast gets you a lot of prayers. And though I'm not a religious person, who couldn't use prayers from a few hundred people?
The Tariq I know is a good boy. He's an AMERICAN and he needs to come home NOW.
What can you do to help??
1. Join the Florida for Tariq Facebook page.
2. Tell Secretary of State Kerry and Congress to demand action for Tariq HERE.
3. Take a photo of yourself holding a sign with the hastag #BringTariqHome and publish on your social media channels.
It was pretty incredible to be the only non-Muslim surrounded by 400+ Muslims for 3 years. I learned so much not only about Islam, but about myself, my values, and my beliefs. And it comes down to the fact that as parents we ALL want what's best for our children, regardless of what god you may believe in.