By Debbie Gregory.
The family of 20-year-old Raheel Siddiqui, a Muslim Marine recruit who died after being slapped by drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix, is pushing to move forward with their $100 million lawsuit against the federal government.
Siddiqui’s death was ruled a suicide by a local coroner, which is disputed by his family.
The courts have consistently held that all claims relating to injuries to active-duty military personnel are not actionable in civil courts based on a longstanding legal doctrine that the government cannot be sued for injuries or deaths involving active-duty military personnel that occurred in the course of their service.
Shiraz Khan, the Siddiqui family attorney argues that Siddiqui should not be considered active-duty military because he hadn’t yet completed boot camp, and the hazing and abuse that led to his death because of his Muslim faith began during the recruitment phase.
Allegations of abuse involving other Muslim recruits at Parris Island involving Sgt.Felix had been raised prior to this incident.
Siddiqui, in his second week on the island, was reported to have been trying to request permission to go to medical for a sore throat on the day of his death. He was refused medical attention, instead being forced to run laps in his barracks. When he collapsed on the floor, Sgt.Felix allegedly slapped him. That is when Siddiqui allegedly ran through a door in the barracks and leaped over an exterior stairwell, falling three stories.
Felix was convicted of mistreating recruits, although he maintained his innocence throughout his court-martial.
His parents have maintained that their son, as both a faithful Muslim and son, was morally incapable of purposely killing himself. In Islam, suicide is a mortal sin. They also claim that Siddiqui never had any mental health issues or threatened suicide. He had spent months training with his recruiter before boot camp in order to succeed.
The government noted that following Siddiqui’s death, the family received $100,000 from the government in addition to a life insurance payment of more than $400,000.