Virginia county cancels classes Friday over response to Islam lesson

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Furor over Arabic assignment leads Virginia school district to close Friday.

A Virginia county decided to shut down schools Friday amid security concerns after parental objections to a world geography lesson that including a teaching on Islam. The entire Augusta County, Virginia, school district will be closed Friday, a week after one teacher touched off controversy by issuing an assignment to students, during a block study of world religions, asking them to copy an example of Arabic calligraphy—the Islamic statement of faith, or shahada.A Virginia school system has decided to close schools Friday after a high school geography assignment on world religions led to allegations of Islamic indoctrination and a slew of angry emails and phone calls.The uproar over an Arabic assignment at a Virginia school has grown to the point where school district officials have canceled Friday classes for all schools under their authority.

Parents protested against the assignment at Riverheads High School in Augusta County and said that the children were not given the translation of what they were writing. In the course of learning about different regions around the world, the Staunton News Leader reports, students also study the regions’ culture, which includes its predominant religions. But in a statement posted on the school district’s website, officials said they were concerned about the “tone and content of these communications.” “We regret having to take this action, but we are doing so based on the recommendations of law enforcement and the Augusta County School Board out of an abundance of caution,” the statement says. But when students discovered that the phrase they copied was the Shahada, meaning, “There is no other God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger,” they pushed back.

Superintendent Eric Bond did not respond to questions about why he canceled school given the lack of a specific threat, or about whether he considered the original assignment improper. In response the district said the students were taught about the “modest dress adopted by many in the Islamic faith and were invited to try on a scarf as a part of an interactive lesson about the Islamic concept of modest dress.” Moreover, it added that the assignment was consistent with the Virginia Department of Education Standards of Learning as students were also taught other religions including Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism and Hinduism. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” The Schilling Show reported that female students in the high school’s class were also invited to wear Muslim clothing.

Herndon said she was “led by the Lord” to organize a meeting Tuesday night at a local church to call for the termination of the teacher and asked for “security on the grounds to make sure no one gets out of hand.” “Mrs. Laporte has taught this same lesson year after year and I hope she has the chance to do it again for many more years,” posted Sarah Tyree, a former student. On the sheriff’s recommendation, the school system decided to cancel Friday’s classes after coming under a deluge of calls and emails from outside the immediate community.

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