Chelsea Schilling is a commentary editor and staff writer for WND and a proud U.S. Army veteran. She has also worked as a news producer at USA Radio Network and as a news reporter for the Sacramento Union.More ↓Less ↑
American students are not getting a realistic picture of radical Islam, and textbook publishers are even promoting the religion in U.S. public schools, experts say.
Gilbert T. Sewall, director of the American Textbook Council, a group that reviews history books, told Fox News the texts are sugarcoating Islamic extremism.
“Key subjects like jihad, Islamic law, the status of women are whitewashed,” Sewall said.
Cindy Ross, a mother of a junior high school student in Marin County, Calif., said she was taken aback at the portrayal of Islam in her son’s seventh grade textbook.
“I was very shocked by what I saw, looking through the book,” she said. “What did strike me was that all the other religions seemed to be lumped together, where there is an inordinate emphasis on Islam specifically.”
Sewall told Fox News that publishers have downplayed Islamic connections with terrorism.
“The picture is incomplete … and the reason for this is that publishers are afraid of the Islamist activists. They don’t want trouble,” he said.
Sewall pointed to one book that failed to even mention the religion of the Sept. 11 terrorists.
“On the morning of September 11, 2001,” the book reads, “teams of terrorists hijacked four airplanes on the East Coast. Passengers challenged the hijackers on one flight, which they crashed on the way to its target. But one plane plunged in to the Pentagon in Virginia, and two others slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. More than 2,500 people were killed in the attacks.”
“In terms of content, so much is left unanswered,” he wrote in his report. “Who were the teams of terrorists and what did they want do to? What were their political ends? Since ‘The Modern World’ avoids any hint of the connection between this unnamed terrorism and jihad, why September 11 happened is hard to understand.”
According to the report, Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, said schools should teach students to reject misconceptions about Islam and refrain from focusing on extremists.
“It’s wrong to show an entire faith community from the lens of a small extremist community, which is really a fringe,” she said. “It’s a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the Muslim community, and that’s not how Muslims want to be framed.”
Kahn continued, “I think there is an unbalanced portrayal of Islam seen mostly through a political lens, but that is not the reality of who a majority of Muslims are.”
“Jihad is defined as a struggle within each individual to overcome difficulties and strive to please god. Sometimes it may be a physical struggle for protection against enemies,” the book states. It notes that Islam requires “that Muslims should fulfill jihad with the heart, tongue and hand. Muslims use the heart in their struggle to resist evil.”
Despite concerns from the public about the “sunny view of Islam,” Sewall says publishers have refused to create a more accurate portrayal of jihad in their texts.
Meanwhile, Ross said she is frustrated that the publishers are more concerned with appearing politically correct than presenting an accurate picture of Islamic extremism.
“When you are talking about a history textbook, that is supposed to be talking about historical facts. And they are talking about jihad in terms of spiritual terms,” she said, “I think it would be completely inappropriate for a public school.”
WND has reported several times on issues involving the promotion of Islam in public school texts, including a situation in which California parents complained their children were being taught that “jihad” to Muslims means “doing good works.”
In the two-year project, whose report was authored by Sewall, the American Textbook Council reviewed five junior and five high school world and American history texts, concluding:
“Many political and religious groups try to use the textbook process to their advantage, but the deficiencies in Islam-related lessons are uniquely disturbing. History textbooks present an incomplete and confected view of Islam that misrepresents its foundations and challenges to international security.”
The report noted that several of the textbooks have found harsh critics among parents an others, and “History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond” has been criticized repeatedly.
In Lodi, Calif., parents “were not objecting to a word or two that they took out of context but to a textbook long on chapters filled with adulatory lessons on Islam.”
One parent whose child had been handed the text in a Sacramento district at that time accused the publisher of a pro-Muslim bias to the point that Islamic theology has been incorporated into the public school teachings.
“It makes an attempt to seem like an egalitarian world history book, but on closer inspection you find that seven (not all are titled so) of the chapters deal with Islam or Muslim subjects,” wrote the parent, whose name was being withheld, in a letter to WND.
“The upsetting part is not only do they go into the history (which would be acceptable) but also the teaching of Islam,” she said. “This book does not really go into Christianity or the teachings of Christ, nor does it address religious doctrine elsewhere to the degree it does Islam.”