An Orange County high school agreed to change its lesson plans on Islam after pressure from parents and a Muslim civil rights group. The Anaheim-based local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) applauded the swift decision made yesterday by the school and the publisher of the texts.
"Such bias in the curriculum exposes Muslim students to contempt and ridicule among their peers and subjects them to unnecessary marginalization," says CAIR-LA Senior Civil Rights Attorney Fatima Dadabhoy.
Back in February, the parents of a student at the high school (which CAIR is choosing not to name) complained to the group about an 11th grade world history class lesson gone awry. The day's focus on Islam included handouts that they say perpetuate familiar stereotypes about Muslims and their faith. CAIR criticized course materials including one titled "Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah" for excerpting a 1979 TIME Magazine piece that belittled the prophet (pbuh) in a condescending tone and that was woefully inaccurate to boot.
The other handout "Explaining Islam" didn't fair much better. The group took issue with its characterization of jihad--because, you know, greater jihad is actually an internal spiritual struggle. The way terrorism was presented for discussion also could've led students to conflate it with Islam.
Before hilarious haters start howling about Muslims interfering with a good ol' American education, the school and publisher of the texts agreed with CAIR about their concerns. Distribution of the handouts has halted and new, more accurate ones are on there way.
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CAIR's victory comes after they issued a report in 2013 noting that nearly half of Muslim students reported being bullied about their faith in school with one in five feeling uneasy participating in classroom discussions on Islam. Unhelpful handouts sure don't improve the situation.
Cue the clueless anyway in 3, 2, 1...
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2