(HARTFORD, CT 11/15/2017) — The Connecticut chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-CT) responded today to social media reports that a Muslim speaker was disinvited by Bristol Public Schools (BPS) from making a presentation about Islam during a social studies class on world religions.
According to postings on Facebook, Ms. Annam Choudhry of the group YUSRA was invited to speak to a class at Northeast Middle School in Bristol. The teacher sent a note home to parents informing them about the class; thereafter she began to receive complaints and threatening messages. The school canceled the class and also cancelled a future presentation by a Rabbi who was going to speak about Judaism.
“I had a very positive discussion this morning with Bristol Public School Superintendent Dr. Susan Moreau,” said Farhan Memon, Chairperson of CAIR-CT. “Dr. Moreau assured me of BPS’ commitment to diversity education and the need for the entire Bristol community to learn about other cultures and religions. We are, however, concerned that Bristol Public Schools would seemingly bow to public pressure in this manner. While we appreciate that the safety of students and faculty is of paramount importance, the district should be working with the Bristol Police Department to ensure the security of the school. The police department in turn should be taking any true threats seriously and investigating them. Cancelling speakers outright emboldens individuals and organizations in Bristol who are Islamophobic and Anti-Semitic. It does a disservice to Bristol’s students and to the community as a whole who need to learn about America’s pluralism and diversity.”
According to Dr. Moreau the Bristol Public Schools plans to hold a panel discussion on world religions shortly at a local high school. CAIR-CT has recommended several qualified speakers to BPS.
“At a time when the civil liberties of Muslim Americans are under attack through policies like Trump’s Muslim Bans and with violent incidents against Muslims increasing, it is vital that school children are exposed to Islam in the context of a secular curriculum,” said Memon. “We all need to learn about each other so that we continue to live and work harmoniously in a pluralistic society. We look forward to working with BPS to ensure that Islam is taught as a world religion in classrooms and that American Muslims can share their experiences with students.”
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
La misiÃ³n de CAIR es mejorar la comprensiÃ³n del Islam, fomentar el diÃ¡logo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensiÃ³n mutua.
CONTACT: Farhan Memon, Chairperson, CAIR Connecticut 203-517-6526 or firstname.lastname@example.org