Friendswood Junior High
A principal who staged a mandatory lesson in Islamic religious beliefs for nearly 900 students at a public school near Houston has been reassigned, the district announced.
In the 40-minute session, representatives of the Houston office of the controversial Council on American- Islamic Relations, an organization critics link to terrorist groups, presented a 40-minute lesson in the religious beliefs and requirements of Islam.
The CAIR representatives instructed students that Adam, Noah and Jesus are prophets; announced “there is one god, his name is Allah”; taught the five pillars of Islam; told students how to pray five times a day; and gave instruction on Islamic religious requirements for dress.
The assembly had not been authorized by the district, officials confirmed.
Trish Hanks, the Friendswood superintendent, said had been asked about having such a presentation because of allegations made by a Muslim who claimed to have been involved in an altercation.
Hanks told parents in a memo she had authorized the presentation for staff members only, not students.
“My concern for our community and for our students is not as much with the content of the presentation as explained to me,” she wrote, according to a Houston Chronicle report, “but with the fact that a group had an audience with our students without consent from parents or this administration.
“I am not surprised by the community’s reaction,” she continued. “Most of you receiving this letter have had years of experience with this district and know the kinds of activities your child has been exposed to in school. This was an isolated incident and a mistake.”
Texas Education Agency officials confirmed that state law allows parents to remove their children from activities or classes that violate their religious or moral beliefs.
There was no information available on Lowe’s new position. The district’s brief statement said Lowe “has accepted another administrative position effective immediately.”
Parents and community leaders had been outraged by the presentation, especially because parents were not notified and given the opportunity for their children to opt out.
“We are very pleased that Supt. Trish Hanks and the Board of Trustees have been so responsive to the community and taken appropriate action,” said Pastor Dave Welch, a spokesman for the Houston Area Pastor Council, an inter-denominational organization closley monitoring the issue.
“We believe that the school officials are very committed to complying with existing laws, policies and parameters addressing religious expression, activities and beliefs in public schools. It is our commitment to working with them to bring the highest level of expertise to assist them,” he said.
“Finally, we are not going to let the primary issue slide by of this highly controversial Islamic activist organization slipping into schools for the purpose of mainstreaming radical Islam using our children. We plan to implement a review of every school district in the greater Houston area and ultimately throughout Texas to make sure that neither CAIR nor any similar group gets a free pass with their agenda under the guise of diversity training,” said Welch.
A spokesman for CAIR’s Houston office, Tarek Hussein, told the Houston paper he contacted Lowe asking to do an “educational presentation” after a man reported his son was attacked because he is Muslim.
Hussein, however, declined to provide details about the alleged attack.
Hanks told the Chronicle she decided the staff members could be given the information, but no assembly would be allowed to indoctrinate students.
“I presented [to students] who Muslims are and the beliefs they have,” Asma Siddiqi, one of the women who delivered the lesson to students, told the newspaper.
State Board of Education member David Bradley told the paper the assembly about Islam was a waste of tax dollars and not the way to respond to a dispute between students.
“There’s a personal incident between two students and as a result of that we’re going to yank everyone out of class?” he told the paper. “I got beat up in junior high. Did my dad go down and force all the kids to sit through sensitivity training in their P.E. class? No, that’s absurd. The coach gave us licks and sent us home. That was the end of those incidents.”
Hussein, however, told the newspaper he now will ask other schools in the area for permission to teach students about Islam during classtime.
CAIR, as WND has reported, is a spinoff of the defunct Islamic Association for Palestine, launched by Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook and former university professor Sami al-Arian, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide services to Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
A number of CAIR employees have been convicted on terrorism-related charges. Among them are former communications specialist Randall Todd “Ismail” Royer, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges he trained in Virginia for holy war against the U.S. and sent several members to Pakistan to join a Kashmiri terrorist group with reported ties to al-Qaida; and Bassem Khafagi, who was arrested in January 2003 while serving as CAIR’s director of community relations and convicted on fraud and terrorism charges in connection with a probe of the Islamic Assembly of North America, an organization suspected of aiding Saudi sheiks tied to Osama bin Laden. Also, in October 2006, Ghassan Elashi, a member of the founding board of directors of the Texas branch of CAIR, was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison for financial ties to a high-ranking terrorist.
WND previously reported public school textbooks across the nation have begun promoting Islam, teaching even the religious doctrines.
WND also has reported several other schools have taught Islam as a required subject.