Muslims are invited into schools, supposedly to provide information about Islamic culture, and then — surprise! — they preach to the children and attempt to spread their religion.
In schools where even the faintest whiff of Christianity is forbidden, in which wearing a cross can get a student suspended, and where the word “Christmas” is never used to designate the winter school break, Muslim outreach volunteers encourage students to create halal meals, try on the hijab, copy out verses from the Koran, and practice fasting during Ramadan.
One such incident occurred back in April in Seminole County, Florida. It might have passed unnoticed in Ann Arbor or Palm Springs, but not in Florida Cracker country. Here’s a report from the local TV station WFTV shortly after the incident occurred:
Some high school students in a Seminole County public school got a lesson in Islam. Outraged parents at Lake Brantley High School called Channel 9 after an Islamic group visited the classroom.- - - - - - - - -
Parents say the discussion violated the separation of church and state, because, they said, the discussion touched on specific elements of Islam and the Koran. Students in one particular class at Lake Brantley High School didn’t have a choice about whether they wanted to be involved.
It was just the second day of a new class at Lake Brantley High School called “Family Dynamics,” but students said guest speakers were there to talk about something else.
“She said, ‘Mom, three Muslim ladies came in and talked about Islam today in school,’“ said parent Lisa Wagner.
Wagner’s daughter was one of about 35 in the class who heard from the Academy for Learning Islam. The school district said it invited the group to talk about cultural diversity, but the conversation went beyond that.
“I just felt like it shouldn’t have been available in the classroom at all. Religion should be separate from school,” Wagner said.
“Would three nuns be allowed to come into a classroom and talk about Jesus and the Bible?” WFTV reporter Eric Rasmussen asked Regina Klaers with Seminole County Public Schools on Thursday.
“If those three nuns came in to talk about how their religion has affected history, yes,” she said.
However, district officials admit the in-class discussion at Lake Brantley may have crossed the line. The leader of the Muslim group showed Eyewitness News the presentation students were supposed to see and said his volunteers knew they weren’t supposed to talk about religion.
Now that the wheels of bureaucracy have finished grinding, the Islamic group responsible for the “cultural education” has been banned from Seminole County schools. According to yesterday’s Orlando Sentinel:
Islamic group banned after visit to Seminole classroom prompts complaints
An Islamic group has been banned from visiting classrooms in Seminole County schools after officials said it crossed the line between telling students about the Muslim culture and pushing its religion.
The flap over the Academy for Learning Islam’s visit to Lake Brantley High School also has caused the school system to re-evaluate who it lets into county classrooms to present educational programs and what they can talk about. By fall, teachers will have stricter guidelines.
Speakers on religion, drugs, alcohol and nearly 50 other touchy topics will get closer scrutiny before they can speak on campuses, Superintendent Bill Vogel said.
“We got complaints that their presentation moved from cultural diversity to a religious focus,” Vogel said.
In addition to the Lake Brantley High visit, the Sanford-based academy also presented programs at Crooms Academy, Sanford Middle, Seminole High, Wicklow Elementary and Wekiva Elementary this past school year, officials said.
They received no complaints about those presentations by the group that says one of its goals is to spread understanding of Islam among mainstream Americans.
But a ruckus arose after three representatives of the Islamic group showed up at teacher Alison Henderson’s family dynamics class at Lake Brantley in late April. Henderson had requested the program through the school district’s speakers bureau, but the three were substitutes for the originally scheduled speaker, officials said.
This is an intriguing part of the story. Would the original speakers have presented the material in a different manner? If so, was the switch part of a deliberate strategy?
Regina Klaers, spokeswoman for Seminole schools, said things went well until a question-and-answer period after a PowerPoint presentation.
“The conversation went awry,” Klaers said. “It became a discussion of religion and not culture.”
Hasnain Kassamali, who heads the academy, said there was no intent to push his religion.
“We were trying to share some of our culture and explain why we do some of the things we do,” Kassamali said.
For example, he said, students often wonder why Islamic women wear head scarves, and that is among things that speakers from his group explain.
Responding to such questions can’t help but touch on the fact that the hijab is a religious symbol, and must necessarily explain on what that symbol means. It’s the equivalent of a Christian explaining what the cross means, and we all know what would happen to anyone who tried to do that in an American public school.
But Alan Kornman, who led those complaining to the School Board about the academy, said the Muslim group clearly wants to convert students to Islam. He heads the Central Florida chapter of the United American Committee, a right-leaning watchdog group that says it wants to alert Americans to the threats of Islamic extremism.
“Hasnain Kassamali is well aware of the rules of the speakers bureau program but chose to do a bait and switch under the guise of diversity and multiculturalism to further his Islamic faith and political doctrine,” Kornman said.
Good for the Seminole County School Board.
Central Florida is obviously out of step with the larger multicultural society, thanks to the tireless vigilance of groups like the UAC.