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Islamophobic content in California school books: US Muslims

Tuesday, Jul 12, 2016,13:52 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Washington | A group of 15 top American Muslim organisations has alleged that a California board responsible for developing school textbooks is injecting Islamophobic content in the new curriculum. The injection of Islamophobic content into the teacher’s manuals would inflame how student discussions are framed.

Students, teachers, and communities all suffer when the content is rigged to cause disruption, the top Muslim American group said in a letter to California State Board of Education which is in final stages of revising and updating the K-12 History-Social Science Framework for public schools. The bombardment of prejudicial ideas, from media outlets to candidates in the Presidential election primaries has left no one immune.

Even the educators our children look up to are impacted by the hateful discourse, the letter told the California Board which is considered to be very influential as its textbooks are followed and adopted in several US states. In the letter, the organisations alleged that contrary to the treatment given to other religions, Islam has been introduced in the curriculum primarily under a narrative of war and conquest.

Prominent among them include the Islamic Society of North America (National), Islamic Circle of North America, Northern California Islamic Council (NCIC), Islamic Shura Council of Southern California and Indian American Muslim Council. The curriculum text in its current form is prejudiced in its references to alleged forced conversions of non-Muslims to Islam, often when no such forced conversions are even reported in historical sources, the letter said.

Likewise, the curriculum text completely obliterates the role played by United States’ foreign policy in funding extremist religious Muslim groups to achieve short term political objectives and advances the idea that religious extremism is to be found only among Muslims, placing the blame squarely on ‘Radical Islam’, it said.

The letter alleged that only Islam is singled out when it comes to the study of religious nationalism even though Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army has killed tens of thousands of people in Africa in the name of Christian nationalism.

Despite India being the second most populous country in the world, the dramatic rise of Hindu nationalism in that country and its violent consequences to religious minorities have been reduced to a passing reference in the curriculum under the religious nationalism section, it alleged. It is disconcerting to see hundreds of edits submitted by groups and individuals that insert more Islamophobia into the already problematic California school curriculum, the letter said.

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