The Philadelphia School District invited the controversial Council on American Islamic Relations – which claims to be a defender of Muslim civil rights but was shown in court to be a front for the Islamic terrorist organization Hamas – to conduct sensitivity training for its teachers last year.
On the day Donald Trump was elected president last November, CAIR attorneys conducted a presentation for educators on “Islamophobia” and the civil rights of Muslim students, claiming “the current political environment” was toxic for Muslim American students, the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported.
CAIR’s Philadelphia branch asserted in a statement that young Muslims face “increased rates of bullying, emotional abuse, physical threats, and verbal epithets due to their faith, race, or ethnicity.” CAIR, however, provided no evidence to support their claim.
The director of the school system’s Multilingual Family Support Center declared, nevertheless, “We need CAIR helping our schools.”
WND reported in July San Diego’s school district ended a partnership with CAIR that aimed to combat “anti-Muslim bullying” after parents sued, charging the program is unconstitutional because it appears to show a preference for one religion over another. The lawsuit against the “anti-Islamophobia” campaign later was revised to focus on CAIR’s radical Islamic origin.
Prior to the San Diego district’s decision, the FBI and the Muslim Arab Gulf nation United Arab Emirates censured CAIR. The FBI cut off its relationship with CAIR after the organization was named an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas-funding case, and the UAE, in 2014, listed CAIR as one of 83 banned terrorist organizations, along with the Taliban, al-Qaida and ISIS.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism, IPT, said Asheq Fazlullah, a member of CAIR Philadelphia’s executive committee, and then-CAIR attorney Ryan Houldin conducted the Nov. 8 training.
In a Jan. 3 session with teachers, Fazlullah and Houldin were scheduled to discuss “issues of diversity, equity, and fairness,” Colette Langston, principal at Philadelphia’s Swenson Arts and Technology High School, wrote in an email to teachers.
The morning seminar was called “Cultural Sensitivity and Diversity Workshop #1 Topic: Islamophobia.”
The school district did not provide course materials in response to IPT’s public records request. School district officials did not respond to queries regarding whether or not they conduct sensitivity training for other religious groups including Christians, Jews, Sikhs or Hindus.
IPT said the school district’s reliance on CAIR could raise constitutional issues because the group’s executive director, Nihad Awad, has described CAIR as a religious ministry.
Awad told the National Labor Relations Board last spring that CAIR was a religious organization whose primary purpose is to spread Islam.
It was Awad’s acknowledgement that prompted the San Diego Unified School District to back away publicly from CAIR’s anti-bullying program. Parents, through the non-profit Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, are suing the district to bar CAIR from influencing public school programming, arguing the anti-bullying plan violated California law and the students’ First and 14th Amendment rights because CAIR is a religious organization and the program gave Muslim students special treatment.
The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, FCDF, contends CAIR’s definition of Islamophobia is too vague and that what it considers bullying could ensnare legitimate criticisms of Islamic practice.
FCDF cited a 1993 statement by CAIR national spokesman Ibrahim Hooper to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune as part of its complaint against San Diego schools.
Hooper told the paper he “wouldn’t like to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future. … I’m going to do it through education.”
Piedra said he hopes the San Diego case will lead to a legal decision that will apply to public schools nationwide.
“We know that CAIR is committed to advancing its anti-Islamophobia initiative nationwide, so we are equally committed to making sure it dies in San Diego. Ideally, that would be done by a precedential court decision,” he said.
IPT said the Philadelphia School District declined to comment on whether the San Diego case would impact future decisions to work with CAIR.
San Diego’s school board was only the latest public entity to distance itself from CAIR.
In 2009, when Robert Mueller was the director of the FBI, the bureau cut off its relationship with CAIR after a 15-year investigation resulted the previous year in the conviction of Hamas fundraisers. During the trial, CAIR was designated an unindicted co-conspirator.
CAIR previously participated in FBI training sessions and served as a liaison with the Muslim community.
CAIR’s Awad, who had met with Mueller and other top FBI officials, was found to have participated in planning meetings with the Holy Land Foundation, which saw five of its officials convicted of funneling $12.4 million to Hamas.
CAIR chairman emeritus Omar Ahmad also was designated by the Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case. At the trial, Special Agent Lara Burns testified CAIR was a front for radical Islamic groups operating in the U.S.
CAIR’s parent organization, according to FBI wiretap evidence from the terror-funding case, was founded at an October 1993 meeting of Hamas leaders and activists in Philadelphia that included Awad. The organization, according to the evidence, was born out of a need to give a “media twinkle” to the Muslim leaders’ agenda of supporting violent jihad abroad while slowly institutionalizing Islamic law in the U.S.
CAIR sued to have its name removed from the list of co-conspirators. But WND reported in 2010 a federal judge determined that the Justice Department provided “ample evidence” to designate CAIR as an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator, affirming the Muslim group has been involved in “a conspiracy to support Hamas.”
CAIR also protested the FBI’s decision to sever relations.
“This is an unfortunate legacy of the Bush administration’s misguided and counterproductive efforts to marginalize mainstream American Muslim organizations,” CAIR’s national office said in a statement to FoxNews.com at the time.
“It is not surprising that we would be singled out by those in the previous administration who sought to prevent us from defending the civil rights of American Muslims.”
After the FBI cut off relations with CAIR, Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., urged Congress to follow suit, pointing to further evidence of CAIR’s radical ties in WND Books’ “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America.
“Why would anyone allow a group, who the FBI says is tied to terrorism, to influence national security policy, or any policy for that matter?” she said in a statement. “If the FBI has cut ties with CAIR, Congress should wake up and do the same.”
At a news conference in Washington in 2009, Myrick said of “Muslim Mafia,” which featured the work of an undercover investigation: “Now we have proof – from the secret documents that this investigative team has uncovered, coupled with the ones recently declassified by the FBI – that [radical Islamic] agents living among us have a plan in place, and they are successfully carrying out that subversive plan.”
Shortly after the book was published, CAIR filed a lawsuit against the undercover investigative team behind “Muslim Mafia,” alleging its reputation was harmed, and it sought damages in court.
But a federal court in Washington shot down CAIR’s claim that its reputation was damaged by the undercover investigation that alleged it was a front for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. The court determined CAIR failed to present a single fact showing it had been harmed, and the organization gave up that specific claim against former federal investigator Dave Gaubatz and his son, Chris Gaubatz.
CAIR, however, has used various tactics to prolong the case, and it is expected to go to trial.