Muslim Schools

January 29, 2021
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A teacher at Riverheads saturated in Staunton, Va., had students practice calligraphy by copying the Muslim declaration of trust. The assignment caused plenty conflict that college officials made a decision to turn off all public schools in Augusta County on Friday. (Reuters)

A Virginia county closed most of its schools Friday due to intense backlash over a course assignment about Islam, with a few parents alleging that kids were being subjected to Muslim indoctrination and teachers emphasizing the importance of exposing U.S. pupils to the world’s fastest-growing religion.

Increased college location instructor in rural Augusta County asked students to use their hand at writing the shahada, an Islamic declaration of faith, in Arabic calligraphy. The job, community response to it, and a rapid influx of outrage from about the united states — including mad emails, telephone calls and threats to put the teacher’s directly a stake — led the college area to close in the place of exposure disturbance or violence.

The county, within the Shenandoah area western of Charlottesville, could be the most recent to wrestle with how Islam ought to be portrayed within the classroom and how pupils should read about it. It’s an interest that is more and more fraught as concerns about Islamophobia have cultivated alongside concerns of extremist physical violence and terrorism.

During same few days that la and nyc school systems debated whether to shut considering emailed threats of attack, the Augusta County School District sealed despite having no specific danger of harm to students. In a statement uploaded regarding the district’s web site, officials said they were worried about the “tone and material” for the communications that they had gotten.

“We regret being forced to simply take this course of action, but we are doing so in line with the guidelines of police while the Augusta County School Board regarding a good amount of caution, ” the declaration stated.

Augusta County Sheriff Randy Fisher said the superintendent additionally the college board made a decision to shut the 10, 000-student school system after area officials plus the Riverheads twelfth grade teacher just who gave the project obtained e-mails that appeared to rise in volume and vitriol as the week wore in. Most emails and messages assailed the college therefore the instructor for “indoctrinating” students in Islam, many referenced assault generally.

Fisher said he saw communications that required firing the teacher and putting “her directly a share.” Images of beheaded bodies also were provided for the Riverheads key. In a development release, the superintendent in addition stated folks suggested they were preparing protests at school structures hence “some communications posed a risk of injury to college officials.”


The controversy started when teacher Cheryl LaPorte gave pupils a work sheet that instructed them to use their hand at composing the shahada. Achieved Friday, LaPorte declined to comment.

Kimberly Herndon, whose boy is within the class, published a photograph of this work sheet to the woman Facebook web page this week. Beneath the heading “practicing calligraphy, ” the job sheet claims: “Here is the shahada, the Islamic declaration of trust, written in Arabic. In room below, decide to try copying it yourself. This Would provide you with an idea of the creative complexity of calligraphy.”

The shahada means: “There is no god but Jesus. Muhammad may be the messenger of Allah.” Some translations focus on: “There is not any god but Allah.”

The pupils were never ever expected to translate the expression, nor were they instructed to recite it or “adopt or pronounce it as a personal belief, ” institutes Superintendent Eric Bond blogged in a news release. He noted that students are slated to do similar calligraphy workouts in products about Asia.

The superintendent stated that students tried on mind scarves an additional lesson that taught all of them concerning the moderate gown many Muslims follow. Students will continue researching world religions as required by Virginia’s statewide academic criteria, college officials said. In the near future, pupils will exercise calligraphy using a different sort of test that includes nothing in connection with the Islamic faith.

Bond and people in the school board did not answer The Washington Post’s demands for remark Friday about the choice to close and also the propriety associated with the assignment.

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