(ANAHEIM, C.A. 4/22/2015) - The Greater Los Angeles area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today welcomed a decision by an Orange County high school to stop distributing academic materials that provided inaccurate information about Islam and the decision of the publishing company to produce updated, accurate materials.
In February, the parents of an Orange County high school student reported to CAIR-LA two handouts entitled "Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah" and "Explaining Islam" that were distributed to 11th grade world history students as part of a lesson on Islam. The lesson included historically inaccurate information and discrepancies and was framed in a manner that perpetuated stereotypes.
Both handouts drew faulty conclusions about Islam and about the Prophet Muhammad. The handout called "Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah" includes an excerpt from a 1979 TIME magazine article, which provides misleading and inaccurate information about the prophet and is written in a condescending tone.
Similarly, the handout "Explaining Islam" had misleading and inaccurate information about the concept of jihad and the sectarian split following the Prophet Muhammad's death. Topics of terrorism were also introduced to the students without prior discussion in class, likely causing students to falsely conflate terrorism with Islam.
CAIR-LA notified the school using the materials and the company that had produced them about the inaccurate content. Both the school and the publisher responded quickly to these concerns, ceasing distribution of the materials and agreeing to print updated, accurate content.
CAIR-LA will continue to work with the parties involved to ensure accurate information on Islam and Muslims is being used in school curricula.
"We welcome the quick response from the school and the publishing company and applaud their commitment to providing students accurate information on a topic about which misunderstanding and stereotypes abound," said CAIR-LA Senior Civil Rights Attorney Fatima Dadabhoy. "Such bias in the curriculum exposes Muslim students to contempt and ridicule among their peers and subjects them to unnecessary marginalization."
In 2013, CAIR-California released the results of a statewide survey of Muslim students, reporting that nearly half said they have been subjected to some form of bias-based bullying.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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