(NEW YORK, N.Y., 11/20/07) – A representative of the New York chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) yesterday spoke at a press conference in support of the Khalil Gibran International Academy’s founding principal Debbie Almontaser who is suing New York City’s Department of Education and mayor for alleged violation of her First Amendment rights.
Almontaser’s lawsuit claims that officials pressured her to resign after she made statements to reporters regarding the use of the word ‘Intifada’ on t-shirts made by an Arab youth organization.
“The defamatory attacks against Debbie Almontaser and the academy since its inception are part of an orchestrated effort to marginalize the American Muslim and Arab-American communities,” said CAIR-NY Community Affairs Director Faiza N. Ali. “Ms. Almontaser’s forced resignation infringes on her First Amendment right to freely express her views.”
“The idea there is only one acceptable view on issues of public concern is not only at odds with our constitutional guarantees, but a perversion of the Jewish tradition of vigorous debate and discussion on all questions of importance to our people,” read an affidavit by Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon of the Congregation B’Nai Jeshurun. “I hope that this Court will remedy the great wrong that has been done to [Ms. Almontaser].”
“…[A] decision by the Chancellor that public controversy trumps school support and professional qualifications sets a bad precedent that discourages independent and professional leadership,” said the President of the Council of Supervisors and Administrators Ernest A. Logan in a public statement. “Sound educational policy demands that Ms. Almontaser’s application be referred to the Level I committee for consideration.”
CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 33 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. 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.