The events of Sept. 11, 2001, leapt with remarkable speed from dynamic daily news reports to the static pages of history books. By the following fall, millions of students across the country were reading about the terrorist attacks in social studies texts put out by the nation’s major publishers.
With every school year that passes, increasing numbers of students and parents come across the lessons on 9/11. Now, as the fifth anniversary approaches, reactions are mounting to the textbooks’ treatment of this high-profile act of terrorism.
Some Muslims say the texts unfairly paint all people of their faith as terrorists. They say frequent references to “Arab terrorists,” “Muslim terrorists,” “Muslim extremists,” or “Islamic fundamentalists” give schoolchildren a negative impression of their religion.
“Because these terms are repeated so many times, it’s very alarming,” said Maren Shawesh, of the Sacramento chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations. “We don’t want these younger students to grow up with that perception of Islam and Muslims.”