Islam studies spark lawsuits
Islam studies spark
hate mail, lawsuits
Parents: 'Biased' state-adopted textbook distorts world history in
favor of Muslims
© 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
Word of public-school students pretending to be Muslims, wearing
robes, simulating jihads and memorizing verses from the Koran in a
seventh-grade California classroom touched off a firestorm of debate,
but WorldNetDaily has learned these classroom exercises are neither
isolated to one school district nor are they anything new.
Parents of seventh-graders across the state report similar
experiences, and one tells WND she battled with her school district
over the Islam teachings in 1994.
WorldNetDaily reported last week, an article by
Assist News Service
described student activities at Excelsior School in Byron, Calif.,
where "students are to pretend that they are Muslims, wear Muslim
clothing to school, stage their own jihad via a dice game and pick out
a Muslim name (to replace their own) from a list of 30."
ANS quoted an "outraged" teacher at Excelsior and parent of a
seventh-grader: "We can't even mention the name of Jesus in the public
schools, but ... they teach Islam as the true religion, and students
are taught about Islam and how to pray to Allah."
The story sparked outrage and prompted a flood of 500 calls,
WorldNetDaily was told, to the
Byron Union School District the following morning. Principal
Nancie Castro also reports receiving about 200 hate e-mails. The story
quickly became grist for talk shows from
560 KSFO radio to the
Channel's "Hannity & Colmes" program. And in response to the story
posted on WorldNetDaily, the international public-interest law firm
The American Center for Law and Justice is demanding Excelsior School
permit students to opt out of the course, contending it "is a
violation of the First Amendment free speech and free exercise rights
of students and violates the right of parents to direct the education
and upbringing of their children."
In its letter to the Byron Union School District, ACLJ states, "We
want to make sure this district knows that it crossed the line. We
also want to make sure that other school districts don't fall into the
same trap and require students to attend courses that violate their
own religious beliefs."
Dealing with 'hysteria'
The raging controversy has parents blaming schools, schools blaming
the state, and one lawsuit blaming the course textbook adopted by the
state. Castro also blames the media. In a letter sent to parents, she
claims the school has been "victimized by a classic case of
misinformation that has led to hysteria among people outside of our
community." Included in the "misinformation" in the ANS report,
according to Castro, is that it was not mandatory for students
to take names of Arabs of the Middle Ages or to wear Muslim clothing,
and they did not wear the robes to school but only during the class
As for the simulated jihad Castro explained, "There was a dice game
where, depending on the role, they had to do various things like
answer a quiz bowl question or read a trivia fact. One roll had them
roll for the highest number and called it a jihad." In a response to a
query from Prophezine News, Castro explained, "Dressing up in costume,
role-playing and simulation games are all used to stimulate class
discussion and are common teaching practices used in other subjects as
When asked whether students were to memorize Islamic terms,
phrases, proverbs and the Five Pillars of Faith of the Islam religion,
as reported by ANS, Castro replied, "There are vocabulary words to be
learned as in every unit. They did not have to memorize proverbs or
prayers. They learned some phrases such as peace be with you, but
nothing religious or praying to Allah."
As for lessons from the Koran, Castro said, "There are some verses
in the text that are read, just like there are Bible verses in the
text in the section on Christianity." WorldNetDaily has learned,
however, that students were offered extra credit if they memorized
verses from the Koran. Sources also report that no Bible verses were
learned, and Christianity overall was "barely touched on."
It is this perceived slighting of Christianity and Judaism
contrasted with the virtual promotion of Islam in public schools that
parents are taking issue with all across the state, from Byron in
Northern California south to San Diego. But WND has discovered that
the issue is not new.
Valerie Moore says her daughter "was indoctrinated in the Islamic
religion for over four months while in the seventh grade" in 1994.
Moore expressed shock in arriving at Joseph Kerr Junior High School in
Elk Grove, Calif., one day and being greeted by a "huge banner on the
front grounds of the school that read 'There is one God, Allah, and
Mohammed is his prophet.'" Moore also recounts witnessing "children
dressed in Muslim attire, chanting from the Koran and praying while
marching around the cabala." Moore recalls the banner being up all
"What if we put up a sign that says 'Jesus is Lord' for 30 minutes?
Oh, no. You can't do that – separation of church and state," Moore
laments. "They aren't just teaching them about Islam; they have them
practicing it. They have them kneeling down and praying to Allah. I
have a problem with that. That's more like inculcation." Moore says
when she complained to the school officials she was ridiculed and
In her letter to parents, Castro maintained, "At no point do we
teach or endorse religion; we teach about religions' impact from a
historical context. ... students learn about Christianity, Islam,
Judaism, Buddhism and other major religions as they apply to the
understanding of history and the development of major Western and
non-Western civilizations. This is the state-approved curriculum,
using state-adopted textbooks and has been part of the instructional
program in California for over a decade."
Content standards adopted in
1998 by the California State Board of Education explicitly state the
content students need to acquire at each grade level from kindergarten to
grade 12. The standards lay out the following for seventh grade World
History and Geography:
7.2 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious,
and social structures of the civilizations of Islam in the Middle Ages.
- Identify the physical features and describe the climate of the
Arabian peninsula, its relationship to surrounding bodies of land and
water, and nomadic and sedentary ways of life.
- Trace the origins of Islam and the life and teachings of Mohammad,
including Islamic teachings on the connection with Judaism and
- Explain the significance of the Koran and the Sunnah as the primary
sources of Islamic beliefs, practice, and law, and their influence in
Muslims' daily life.
- Discuss the expansion of Muslim rule through military conquests and
treaties, emphasizing the cultural blending within Muslim civilization
and the spread and acceptance of Islam and the Arabic language.
- Describe the growth of cities and the establishment of trade routes
among Asia, Africa, and Europe, the products and inventions that
traveled along these routes (e.g., spices, textiles, paper, steel, new
crops), and the role of merchants in Arab society.
- Understand the intellectual exchanges among Muslim scholars of
Eurasia and Africa and the contributions Muslim scholars made to later
civilizations in the areas of science, geography, mathematics,
philosophy, medicine, art, and literature.
"The state guidelines call for the approach to religion to be academic,
not devotional," stressed Tom Adams, the adminstrator for curriculum
Continued on Page 2
"Corruption in our children's
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