In a shocking case of blasphemy reported from Naperville, Chicago, United States, a high school Hindu student faced abuses, was thrashed, and witnessed threats for allegedly burning the Quran. Months after the alleged video of the incident went viral, the fact-finding committee found that the allegations were fake and the Hindu student did not commit blasphemy.
As per the reports, in the summer of July 4, two children decided to burst firecrackers in an open field in South Naperville. After bursting firecrackers, they burned random trash, including a book. They took some pictures, a few videos and went home thereafter. The entire incident was never discussed except once during a grad party at the end of July.
Then comes September 26, 2023, when students bullied a high school student at the school. Reports claim there were more than 40 accused students who bullied and pressured the High School Student when he stepped out of his school bus to admit he burned a holy book. He was surprised and in shock. He was confused about how a random book-burning incident turned into a Quran-burning incident. There was no video in circulation until that point.
Later the video of the said event went viral on social media like wildfire and the Hindu student was accused of blasphemy. As per a report by Daily Herald, the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Indian American Muslim Council, and the Islamic Society of North America were among those who condemned the act allegedly committed by a Naperville student over the summer. The video of the same was circulated in the last week of September on social media.
The groups reportedly, warned of a connection between the act and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Hindutva movement.
Ahmed Rehab, executive director of CAIR-Chicago said, “This particular incident is not an isolated arbitrary act, but allegedly part of a larger trend of Hindutva-inspired Islamophobia playing out in Naperville and other communities, and it is high time it is confronted,” Rehab said. “It is a stark reminder of the impact of ideological extremism quietly imported into America and the need to address it urgently.”
On the other hand, Nag Jaiswal, Candidate for Naperville City Council, Community Leader who was a member of the fact-finding committee wrote a blog sharing facts on how the Hindu boy was found not guilty of the allegations.
In his blog he wrote, “September 27th, I received a text from one of the parents of the student accused requesting help and guidance with an issue related to his son in Waubonsie Valley High School. The parents and students were visibly disturbed and hadn’t slept throughout due to fear and anxiety”.
He shared the excerpt from the discussions of the fact-finding committee and questions asked to the students and this is what it says:
Q. Is the burned book the Quran?
A. No. It is not, based on student testimony and video content. Students shared the video voluntarily to CIOGC and ICN Imams on request to check the authenticity. They vehemently denied the burned book is the Quran.
Q. How did this turn into Quran Quran-burning accusation?
A. The entire episode is speculative based on hearsay. Students at the grad party could have spread the rumor. At this time no one is sure how the rumor spread without anyone having a video. The accused student was bullied and pressured by a mob of 40 High School Students on Wednesday, September 26th at 8 AM when he stepped out of his school bus to admit he burned holy book. He was surprised and in shock. He was confused how a random book-burning incident turned into a Quran-burning incident. There was no video in circulation until that point.
Q. Did the accused students post the video on social media?
A. No. The students clarified that they did not make any social media posting of the video or make any comments about the book or incident in public or private. They also did not share the video to anyone willingly prior to the mob incident in Waubonsie Valley High School.
Q. How did the video end up on social media?
A. The video of the incident was requested from other students who were their friends after the incident that morning of Wednesday, September 26th. This was done in the pretext of making the event go away and getting closure.
Q. Were the kids remorseful?
A. The kids were very remorseful to their parents, fellow students, and the general community for their act resulting in general misunderstanding, anger and trust issues. Their random act of book burning turned into an extremely sensitive issue between different religions and the community.
The Hindu-American foundation condemned the incident and questioned Islamic organisations as they shared fake information. In a post on social media platform X, the foundation wrote, “#Naperville, IL alleged Quran burning amplified on SM by CAIR & IAMC was #fake news. Book was not a Quran & there was no intention to target Muslims. It is unacceptable that a family’s life was endangered over false charges & these national groups must apologize.”
— Hindu American Foundation (@HinduAmerican) October 14, 2023