IN: Parents Debate Muslim Presentation at School

IN: Parents Debate Muslim Presentation at School

IN: Parents Debate Muslim Presentation at School
ELIZABETH HOLMES, Northwest Indiana Times, 10/21/05
http://nwitimes.com/articles/2005/10/21/news/porter_county/04301b99485383a1862570a100217a51.txt

PORTER TOWNSHIP | The debate over a Muslim presentation at Porter Lakes Elementary School spilled over from the School Board meeting into the hallway Thursday evening, bringing parents from both sides together to hash out the issue.

Susan Miller approached Ayesha Syed, the mother of two new Muslim students at Porter Lakes, and tried to explain her reasoning for adamantly and outwardly opposing a presentation Syed gave to the students about the Muslim culture.

As each parent's sons played together around them, oblivious of the extent or the heat of the discussion, Miller insisted to Syed, "This is not about you."

However, in a way, it was. On Sept. 30, Syed and her Muslim friend, Ameenah Abdullah, came to the school to talk to a second-grade class and the entire third grade about the Muslim culture.

The presentation, for students who are the same ages as Syed's children, was intended to answer questions about the Muslim culture. The women talked about religion because it is heavily intertwined with the Muslim culture, and that upset many in the Porter Lakes community.

The issue of allowing such a presentation was not on the board agenda. However, the public participation portion of the meeting allowed parents a chance to sound off to the board for future consideration.

The majority of speakers vehemently opposed religion in the public school setting. Michelle Colvin said her son had questions for her about Allah that caught her off guard. She said she should have been notified of the presentation in advance.

Miller touched on another hot issue surrounding the Muslim family -- the creation of a prayer room at the school for the Muslim children, which school officials will not confirm -- and demanded fair treatment for all faiths.

"If they're going to cater to one religion, they better cater to all of 'em," she said and asked for an altar to be added for her Catholic son.

Miller's speech, the first of more than a dozen, garnered an applause and an "amen" from the standing-room-only crowd. In an interview before the meeting, she said, "I'm not prejudiced, but I do have a concern when it comes to Muslim people." (MORE)

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