Florida deputies investigating beating of Muslim girl

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida sheriff's office said Friday that it is investigating the videotaped beating of a Muslim teenager by three other girls that was posted on Facebook.

Palm Beach County sheriff's spokeswoman Teri Barbera said deputies are working with school officials to investigate the beating of the 14-year-old and added charges could be filed. She said Thursday's fight may have been over a boy and not religion, but didn't elaborate. It happened at a park near West Boca High School, which the Muslim girl attends.

Her father posted the video taken by another student, writing it happened because his daughter is a Muslim. The Associated Press is not identifying the teen or her father to protect her identity. The man did not immediately respond to a message sent on Facebook.

Omar Saleh, an attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Florida, said Friday he had a brief conversation with the girl's mother, who said her daughter was receiving medical treatment. He didn't know the severity of her injuries. The group is calling for the three other girls to be charged.

Barbera said the Muslim girl and one of the other teens, who attends a rival high school, had agreed to meet. The Muslim girl thought the meeting was to discuss an ongoing dispute between the two, while the other girl believed they were meeting to fight.

In the 53-second video, one teen pulls the Muslim girl by the hair and drags her to the ground. She starts hitting the Muslim girl, who curls into a fetal position and covers her head. Other teens start screaming in apparent glee and use their cellphones to videotape the fight. Two other girls join the fight, kneeling on the girl as they throw punches at her. A fourth girl briefly tries to intercede, but one girl keeps swinging.

One of the three girls then pulls the Muslim teen's hair to flip her onto her back, the video shows. The beating continues.

The video stops, then resumes with the Muslim teen standing. One of the three girls charges and again uses the Muslim teen's hair to pull her to the ground. She hits her several times before she is pulled off. Throughout the video, the Muslim girl is never seen throwing a punch.

Palm Beach County School Superintendent Robert Avossa said in a statement that he is "saddened by this senseless violence" and disappointed that the students who videotaped the beating didn't come to the girl's aid.

"As a community, we cannot ever get to a place where we are passive bystanders of such acts. We must expect more from one another and certainly, I expect more from our students," he said.

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