November 28, 2007

More on Islamic  Schools

   

An Islamic school in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts which recently received accreditation from the state.  Perusing their website (not available now, it’s under reconstruction), tere are  a few things which make one concerned , including numerous links to Islamic fundamentalists. There was also a Powerpoint presentation with a largely exaggerated (if not fabricated) history of Muslims in America, which won an award in the 8th-grader  religion fair.   One wonders if Al-Hamra teaches Arabic simply as a langauge or as Islamic ideology. A number of commenters accused me of being paranoid and “spreading hatred” to even bring up questions about Al-Hamra.   Dr. Zhudi Jasser, a medical doctor and former U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander, published an article yesterday about how to distinguish Islamist schools from Islamic schools.  He’s concerned about what impressionable young people are being taught, and he calls for public accountability for Islamic educational institutions.  Excerpts from Dr. Jasser’s article:

“America’s public attention to the curricula and texts of Islamic parochial schools should not only be limited to this single foreign school on our soil (Saudi Academy in Northern Virginia) but also more comprehensively to the curricula of all Islamic schools in the United States. This is not about profiling much as Islamists may try to say in their protestations to this debate. But rather it is about understanding the penetration of an ideology which consciously and subconsciously teaches the superiority of a political system of governance at odds with the American political and justice system. This is also centrally relevant in the conflict against militant Islamism. At odds with the American way of life is not only the more obvious militant ‘jihadist’ fringe component of political Islam but also the less obvious, more pervasive and more insidiously dangerous movement of political Islam as a way of life.”

“For the Islamic educational institutions in America founded only with the purpose of teaching our Muslim children the love of God, righteousness, Islamic theology, pluralism, humanitarianism, character, humility, charity, and other personal religious principles as it applies to God, I see no threat to our freedom in the U.S. However, the more relevant questions are how these institutions of Islamic education handle topics of American government and law. As an anti-Islamist Muslim, I am waiting anxiously to hear a public debate about what is taught in their U.S. history and government classes as compared to the Islamic jurisprudence classes of these “Islamic” schools. The schools around the country are all relatively new and wasting no time in creating a generation of students which are more likely than not to be defenders of Islamism over anti-Islamist systems based in universal liberty. While only a minority of Muslims send their children to these schools, they are a growing and significant minority countered only by a silent majority of Muslims.”

 

Please read the whole article.  Jasser raises a series of questions that concerned communities could ask of local Islamic school in order “to understand whether the school has a political agenda in its teachings or not”:

 

  1. How does the school teach American history and the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights? What is taught about the struggle of our founding fathers against theocracy? Is European Enlightenment ideology taught? Are students encouraged to learn from non-Muslim philosophers especially those who influenced our founding fathers and taught liberty and freedom?

     

2.         Are students taught that sharia is only personal or that it also specifically guides governmental law? Does their answer change whether Muslims are a minority or a majority?

3.         Do they view non-Islamic private and public schools as part of a culture of ‘immorality’ and decadence since they are not Islamicized or can non-Islamic schools be morally and equally virtuous?

4.         Do they teach their children that ‘being American’ and being ‘free’ is about moral corruption or is being American and free about loving the nation in which they live and sharing equal status before the law regardless of faith tradition?

5.         Is complete religious freedom a central part of faith and the practice of religion? In the Islamic school, how are children treated who refuse to participate in school faith practices?

6.         Are the children taught Muslim exclusivism with regards to the attainment of paradise in the Hereafter? From that, are the children also taught that government and public institutions must thus be ‘Islamic’ in order for the community as a whole to be able to enter the gates of Heaven?

7.         How are student discussions, debate, and intellectual discourses approached regarding American domestic and foreign policy? Do the teachers have a political agenda? Does that agenda demonstrate a dichotomy between Islamist interests and American interests?

8.         Is the historical period of Muslim rule of Spain (Andalusia) taught in the context of the history of the world during the Middle Ages or is it looked upon as superior to current day American ideology even after the advances of the Enlightenment?

9.         Is the pledge of allegiance administered every day at the beginning of the school day?

 

 

Jasser writes “It is not too much to expect schools operating on American soil to manifest an ideology which is not politically anathema to the founding ideals of our nation.” Agreed. He concludes:

 

“While all Americans should be free to establish parochial schools, they should not be insulated from public scrutiny. While my personal belief is that Islamic schools contribute to the segregation and isolation of Muslims psychologically and physically, I will always endorse their right to exist especially as spiritual institutions. However, our national security interests demand that we not allow them to become incubators for political Islam where they can influence and control impressionable youth.”

 

If you’re interested about Islamic schools and how to monitor for Islamist teachings, please check out the Citizens for American Values in Public Education website here. This organization grew out of the investigation of the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA) in New York City, and they’ve got some heavy hitters on their Advisory Board, including Daniel Pipes and Frank Gaffney.  From their Mission Statement:

 

“As parents and teachers, many of us are confronting the challenge of Islamist propaganda imposed on our children in classrooms and homework each day. We do not support radical Islamist values of separatism, victimization, the supremacy of Islam and the teaching of Islam as a preferred religion and political ideology in our public schools. Citizens for American Values in Public Education will work to give children of all religions and ethnicities and national origins, a chance to learn American values of tolerance, integration, patriotism, unbiased love of learning, a respect for historical facts over political correctness, and individual achievement. ”

“Islamist organizations have worked systematically for years, backed by Saudi wealth, to impose extremist, anti-American, intolerant values in our children’s history textbooks, teacher training programs, and now charter schools and Arabic language programs.  Citizens for American Values in Public Education, as a new non-profit corporation, will develop resources and educational materials to help parents and teachers investigate, expose and eliminate that Islamist influence on textbooks, curricula and courses.  KGIA has taught us that we can fight back in this war of ideas – state by state, school by school.”

The Citizens for American Values in Public Education also has a draft Citizen’s Guide to Islamists Curricula in Our Public Schools, which you can download from here.

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