(ANAHEIM, CA, 3/6/18) – The Greater Los Angeles Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today welcomed the California Department of Education’s (CDE) determination of religious discrimination, overturning the Mesa Union School District’s (District’s) defense of the use of materials from an Islamophobic website – billionbibles.org – to teach about Islam.
In October 2017, CAIR-LA filed a complaint on behalf of a Muslim student in response to a teacher’s distribution of a worksheet containing inaccurate and Islamophobic statements to a seventh-grade social studies class.
The district’s response in December failed to find any fault with the material or to issue an apology or retraction, despite the worksheet’s inappropriate and disturbing focus on rape and violence.
As a result of the district’s inaction, the Muslim student was unable to continue in his class, and ultimately had to be removed from the school.
The CDE found that the website and materials used in the classroom carried a clear discriminatory bias against Islam, and that attempts to classify the website as objective or accurate are erroneous and without justification.
“Unfortunately, the American Muslim community has been facing issues regarding misinformation and falsehoods about Islam for a long time,” said CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush. “It is particularly worrisome when this misinformation is taught in a classroom and targets young students.”
“Students have the right to learn in a welcoming environment, without bias,” said CAIR-LA Civil Rights Attorney Patricia Shnell. “We applaud the California Department of Education’s defense of the classroom as a safe space for all to learn, and we welcome these initial steps toward justice for the student and his family.”
“As a result of the teacher’s lesson and the district’s unwillingness to recognize his unconscionable and inappropriate teachings, our lives have been hugely negatively impacted,” said the student’s mother, Carolyn Rodriguez-Quddus. “It’s a well-needed sigh of relief to finally see some light shed on this.”
The egregious nature of the Islamophobic teaching materials mirrors the findings of a report recently published by CAIR-CA, that Muslim students are bullied at twice the rate of the national average, and that Muslim students feel less safe, welcome and respected in their schools. The report further found that instances of teachers and school administrators bullying Muslim students have increased over the past two years.
CAIR-LA is a chapter of CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR-LA Advocacy Manager Masih Fouladi, 714-851-4851, firstname.lastname@example.org