A religious liberty group is accusing a Seattle-area school district of “urging teachers” to bless their Muslim students — in Arabic — during the holy month of Ramadan.
The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund alleges the Dieringer School District is “officially endorsing Islam” and is “following a script” from the Council on American-Islamic Relations by asking teachers to wish (Muslim) students “Ramadan Mubarak” (“Happy Ramadan”) and “Ramadan Kareem” (“Have a generous Ramadan”).
According to Fox News, CAIR also wants teachers to grant “special accommodations” during Ramadan as Muslim students are fasting.
While such accommodations aren’t out of the ordinary in public schools where there is a sizable percentage of students that celebrate a particular event, the greetings are a different matter. The FCDF’s Daniel Piedra says “By urging teachers to bless Muslim students in Arabic, the district is running roughshod over the First Amendment’s mandate of government neutrality toward religion.
“A school district would never order teachers to ‘welcome’ Catholic students during Easter with ‘He is risen, alleluia!’ Singling out Muslim students for special treatment is blatantly unconstitutional.”
The defense fund claims Dieringer Superintendent Judy Martinson blindly followed the recommendations of CAIR and “enacted the letter as official district policy.” The defense fund sent Martinson a letter stating their complaints after a teacher and parent complained about the new procedure.
The May 6 letter also warned Martinson about CAIR’s anti-semitic advocacy and alleged ties to radical Islamists, which the group has long denied.
Martinson did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment. However, she put out a statement to members of the school district later Tuesday, writing: “The Dieringer School District has not and would not violate the First Amendment by endorsing any religious observations. Be assured that we respect the personal beliefs of you and your family.”
Fox News also has obtained a March 14 email from Martinson’s official account to district officials including school principals, forwarding a CAIR letter with suggested guidelines for schools.
Martinson’s statement blasted Fox News for writing a story “that is totally false,” and said district officials are “very disappointed that a national television network would broadcast a story based on no facts or information.”
CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper claimed the “pushback” from the FCDF is a “sign of the growing Islamophobia in our nation”:
“Pluralism in America means recognizing the wide variety of holidays celebrated by students of different faiths and backgrounds, including by saying ‘Merry Christmas,’ ‘Happy Hanukkah,’ ‘Happy Diwali,’ or ‘Ramadan Mubarak,'” he said.
The FCDF counters that the district recommendations to teachers “acted under color of state law to create an official policy that has a primary effect of advancing religion.”
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