NJ: Ramadan Event in School Draws Bias



HIGHTSTOWN - A Muslim congregation that recently convened at Hightstown
High School triggered an outburst of criticism and prompted the school
board last week to vigorously defend its policies.

An assembly of 500 gathered on Sunday, Nov. 14, at HHS for congregational
prayers and a traditional feast to mark the end of Ramadan. The gathering
was sponsored by the Institute of Islamic Studies of East Windsor - one of
dozens of groups that rent East Windsor Regional School District facilities
every year.

Talk radio hosts Craig Carton and Ray Rossi of New Jersey 101.5 (WKXW-FM)
induced public reaction to the assembly during an afternoon show the week
of Nov. 15. The pair host "The Jersey Guys" program airing weekdays between
2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

"I heard enough after 10 minutes that I didn't want to hear any more,"
Superintendent Ronald Bolandi said last week.

Mr. Bolandi said he received a telephone call alerting him that the Muslim
assembly was being discussed on-air. He said he tuned in to the program and
heard one of the hosts recommending the high school be swept for bombs.
"That's kind of going a little hysterical," Mr. Bolandi said.

Mr. Carton said he made the bomb comment because it "might make the
community feel better." In an interview Wednesday, he suggested a bomb
sweep would have guaranteed public safety following the assembly. Mr.
Carton said he was uncertain as to exactly when he made the comment but
believes the assembly was discussed on his show shortly after the gathering
took place. A station receptionist said neither a taped recording of the
program nor a transcript is available.

Mr. Carton said the on-air discussion was warranted because he received
half-a-dozen e-mails from area residents who had expressed concern over the
assembly. When citizens of the community are upset about an issue, Mr.
Carton said, he investigates their concern

 


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