In the wake of Sept. 11, an increasing number of California public school students must attend an intensive three-week course on Islam, reports ASSIST News Service.

The course mandates that seventh-graders learn the tenets of Islam, study the important figures of the faith, wear a robe, adopt a Muslim name and stage their own jihad. Adding to this apparent hypocrisy, reports ANS, students must memorize many verses in the Koran, are taught to pray “in the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful” and are instructed to chant, “Praise to Allah, Lord of Creation.”

“We could never teach Christianity like this,” one outraged parent told ANS.

Elizabeth Christina Lemings, a teacher in the Byron, Calif., Union School District, was unaware of the course until her seventh-grade son brought home the handouts. Obtained by ANS, the handouts include a history of Islam and the life of Mohammad, its founder. There are 25 Islamic terms that must be memorized, six Islamic (Arabic) phrases, 20 Islamic proverbs to learn along with the Five Pillars of Faith and 10 key Islamic prophets and disciples to be studied.

“We can’t even mention the name of Jesus in the public schools,” Lemings laments, “but … they teach Islam as the true religion, and students are taught about Islam and how to pray to Allah. Can you imagine the barrage of lawsuits and problems we would have from the ACLU if Christianity were taught in the public schools, and if we tried to teach about the contributions of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and the Apostle Paul? But when it comes to furthering the Islamic religion in the public schools, there is not one word from the ACLU, People for the American Way or anybody else. This is hypocrisy.”

ANS reports that students are to pretend that they are Muslims, wear Muslim clothing to school, stage their own jihad via a dice game and pick out a Muslim name (to replace their own) from a list of 30.

When asked what they thought about the course, students described it as “fun,” while others described Islam as “a pretty culture.” Joseph Lemings, 12, told ANS, “the jihad was like playing a video game.”

The “fun” description disturbs Elizabeth Lemings, who sees the course as a tool, not only to engender sympathy and support for the Muslim cause, but for recruitment.

“This is not just a class of history of examining culture,” she said. “This course is entirely too specific. It is more about indoctrination.”

Nancy Castro, principal of Intermediate-Excelsior School of Byron, told ANS that the Islam course (included within “History of Culture”) reflects California educational standards. Castro maintains the course “is not religion, but ancient culture and history. We do not endorse any religion; we just make students aware.” Castro further emphasized the course textbook is in use throughout California.

The textbook used for the Islamic course, “Across The Centuries,” is published by Houghton-Mifflin and has been adopted by the California school system. In it, according to ANS, Islam is presented broadly in a completely positive manner, whereas the limited references to Christianity are “shown in a negative light, with events such as the Inquisition, and the Salem witch hunts highlighted in bold, black type.” ANS notes the portrayal of Islam leaves out word of “the wars, massacres, cruelties against Christians and other non-Muslims that Islam has consistently perpetrated over the centuries.”

Asked if there was any response from parents about the Islam course, Castro told ANS, “Oh, a couple of parents called to express concerns, three to be exact.”

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