(ATLANTA, GA – 4/22/19) – The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Georgia) today thanked Autrey Mill Middle School for holding “positive and productive” meetings with Palestinian-American families impacted by controversy involving the school’s annual Multicultural Night on March 8, 2019.
During Multicultural Night both this year and last year, Palestinian students displayed a cultural exhibit that featured a map they were using to depict historic Palestine as it existed from 1922 to 1948, when their grandparents were born.
When a picture of the map went viral on social media, sparking complaints, the school released a statement of condemnation and pledged to identify those responsible for the exhibit.
However, in a press conference held days later, CAIR-Georgia revealed that the school had approved the Palestine exhibit, as well as an Israel exhibit in a prior year that featured a map of a larger Israel with borders that encompassed, and omitted any mention of, Palestinian territory.
Parents of the middle school students who arranged the Palestine exhibit met with school leadership on April 18 to share their perspectives, explain their concerns, and discuss how to move forward in a positive way.
The April 18 meeting was facilitated by CAIR-Georgia, which previously met with the principal, the Fulton County Schools area superintendent, and the school district’s legal counsel on March 26th.
According to The Atlanta Jewish Times, Fulton County Schools Chief Academic Officer Clifford Jones said in a statement that after CAIR-Georgia’s “productive meeting with school officials, the school considers the matter resolved.”
In a statement, CAIR-Georgia Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said:
“We thank Fulton County Schools for working with us and the impacted families to reach a positive resolution to this situation. Although we disagreed with the way the school officials first handled this matter, we are very satisfied with how they resolved this dispute.
“The school district’s leadership has made clear that they understand the importance of protecting free speech, respecting for diverse cultures, not taking sides in political disputes, and treating all students equally in the public school environment.
“We thank the school district for specifically confirming that the Palestinian-American students who celebrated their culture during Multicultural Night with the school’s permission will not be disciplined, and that any further racist or Islamophobic bullying of those students will not be tolerated.”
“We also support the school’s decision to continue Multicultural Night in the future–perhaps with new guidelines based on input from diverse community voices, but with absolutely equal treatment for all students, their cultures, and their countries of origin.
“Finally, this incident should serve as a teachable moment for all of us, especially Americans with strong views about Israel-Palestine.
“We must learn to disagree about this topic without being disagreeable. We must learn to respect each other’s cultural and historical perspectives, even when they conflict with our own. When we do debate, we must do so without asking the government to intervene, take a side, and silence one another.
“Going forward, we hope that this controversy will ultimately lead to a more educated, respectful, and united community, both inside and outside of Autry Mill Middle School.”
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misiÃ³n de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensiÃ³n del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
CONTACT: CAIR-Georgia Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell, 404-285-9530, firstname.lastname@example.org