(AUSTIN, TEXAS, 3/19/17) – The Texas office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Texas) today condemned what it called a “cheap Islamophobic publicity stunt” by that state’s Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose office has raised objections to the use of a spare classroom by Muslim middle school students to perform their daily prayers.
Paxton’s office sent the Frisco school district superintendent a letter Friday expressing “concerns” that the classroom is being used by Muslim students. In a news release, Paxton’s office falsely stated: “Recent news reports have indicated that the high school’s prayer room is. . .apparently excluding students of other faiths.”
According to school district officials: “This ‘press release’ appears to be a publicity stunt by the OAG to politicize a nonissue. . .Frisco ISD is greatly concerned that this type of inflammatory rhetoric in the current climate may place the District, its students, staff, parents and community in danger of unnecessary disruption.” School officials say they had not been contacted by the attorney general’s office prior to the criticism of the Muslim students’ use of the spare classroom.
In the past, Paxton – who once sued a middle school principal to keep a Bible quote on a door - has criticized what he calls anti-Christian discrimination in state schools.
In a statement, CAIR-Texas said:
“It is unfortunate that our state’s top law enforcement officer would engage in a cheap Islamophobic publicity stunt that could very well result in increased bullying of Muslim students and the creation of a hostile learning environment. Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office appears to have made its ill-informed statements without first contacting school officials. That apparent lack of interest in the facts of this case would seem to confirm suspicions that the ‘concerns’ about Muslim prayers have less to do with religious neutrality, and more to do with exploiting growing Islamophobia in our state and nationwide.
“It is the duty of any attorney general to protect the constitutional rights of all citizens, regardless of faith.”
CAIR’s Houston chapter recently called on the administration of the Houston Independent School District (HISD) to meet with representatives of the Muslim community to discuss its social media policy after a teacher sent out virulently anti-Muslim statements on Twitter.
Video: CAIR-Houston Director Tells Anti-Islam Teacher to 'Read His Bible'
A report by CAIR’s California chapter, titled “Mislabeled: The Impact of Bullying and Discrimination on California Muslim Students,” indicated that that more than half of Muslim students in that state have been subject to at least one form of religion-based bullying.
The Washington-based civil rights and advocacy organization is urging Muslim parents and students to report any bias incidents to school officials, to police and to CAIR's Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420, or by filing a report at: http://www.cair.com/civil-rights/report-an-incident/view/form.html
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.
La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.
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