Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Government school classroom assignment on world religions in discussion and Islamophobia gone wild

The Shahadah (first part ašhadu 'al-lā ilāha i...
The Shahadah (first part ašhadu 'al-lā ilāha illā-llāh - I testify that there is no god (ilah) but God (Allah)), the creed of Islam. The letter Alif is highlighted in red to demonstrate its different usage in Arabic scripture. This illustration was designed in order to teach the letter Alif, but not the creed itself! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At a Virginia high school (Riverheads High School in Staunton) understandably a lesson in calligraphy for ninth-graders has caused an uproar among some parents. But the Virginia school district is defending the classroom assignment that required students to practice calligraphy by writing the Muslim statement of faith,
 “There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
For the first part the Christian Americans should not be afraid because they too should believe that there is only One God, only Allah the Elohim Adonai, Hashem Jehovah. the God of Abraham should be the only One true God for Jews, Christians and Muslims.

It can not be called bad to have during a world geography class to have the students to feel how it is to live in a certain area and to dress like the people who live in such area.  I would call that a very good integrated lesson.
The lesson of the day focused on world religions, among them Islam. As part of the assignment, social studies teacher Cheryl LaPorte had her ninth-grade students copy a piece of Arabic text known as the shahada, which is the most common Islamic creed. 
Recitation of the shahada in public is the first formal step in conversion to Islam. However, according to school officials, the ninth-graders were not asked to translate the statement or read it aloud.
Students were also shown copies of the Koran, and female students were invited to try on a scarf as part of a lesson about the Islamic concept of modest dress.
Parents being infuriated to see that their children learned Arabic should know that it is a language spoken in many countries and in case Westerners would be able to read and understand it they could understand much more what is written on slogans and in books and could answer the right way to those speaking about the Arabic books or saying something wrong what would so called be written in those books.

It is also totally wrong to think a teacher would indoctrinate her pupils by talking about the Islam faith or any other faith and to have their kids reading the books of that faith.

Parent Kimberly Herndon was infuriated when her son came home with the assignment sheet from Mrs LaPorte’s world geography class.
‘When I saw the language, the Arabic language, immediately I had a bad feeling come over me,’ the mother of six told NBC29.
Herndon, who is a devout Christian, accused the teacher of indoctrinating unsuspecting students into the Islamic faith. The mother has not sent her son back to school since the incident and said she would be willing to take this case all the way to the US Supreme Court if she must.
‘She [LaPorte] gave up the Lord’s time,’ Herndon said of the religious lesson when speaking to the Staunton News Leader. ‘She gave it up and gave it to Mohammed.’
The Augusta County parent on Tuesday organized a meeting attended by more than 100 people at Good New Ministries to discuss the controversial calligraphy lesson.
Debbie Ballew, a former English teacher who was present up at the public forum, said had she asked her students to copy a passage from the Bible, she would have lost her job.
Strange that the teacher would have lost  her job when she would have asked to copy a passage from the Bible. Even more strange that such an exclusion would take place in the United
States of America which always shouts it is so proud about her constitution including 'Freedom'.

‘Out of an abundance of caution’
after consulting with law enforcement Augusta County School Board President Eric Bond noted that there was no specific threat to students but announced Thursday that schools would be closed Friday over security concerns sparked by parents’ outrage in response to an Arabic calligraphy lesson.

Recitation of the shahada in public is for many considered the first formal step in conversion to Islam. However, according to school officials, the ninth-graders were not asked to translate the statement or read it aloud.

 Bond said
It’s a sad state of affairs when we’ve reached the point where children can’t even learn what Arabic or Islam is without offending someone’s fragile sensibilities.
 Arabic calligraphy

There are countries, like Belgium where religious education is obligatory and children have to learn about all major religions of the world. As such they learn about the monotheist faiths and about several heathen religions. Having to read the Torah, Nevim, Kethuvim Aleph, Kethuvim Bet (or Messianic Scriptures or New Testament), the Koran and certain Buddhist and Hindy sacred scriptures they can get a pretty idea what the believers of those faiths should follow.

In lots of faiths we do see that fundamentalist can get so strong because many followers of them do not get to know their Holy Scriptures very well.

In many countries we also see that lots of people do not know their own Sacred Scriptures, and that is why we see lots of them not living according to the faith rules of the books they are so called to follow.

Having children to know the other culture can best be done by dumpling them under in such a culture.

This is a very good way to have children getting an idea about a culture and about how people who live in a certain area can feel themselves or how they have to live.

Ideal would be to have them dress, eat and having to do the same activities as others would have to do in the region studied or when it would be about camps and torturing to have a sort of experience what it would be in such a camps and under such interrogation. In Latvia (Letland) people can have such an experience how it was under Soviet regime. In the Riga camp special tours are organised to 'undergo' one day or 'a day and a night' a similar experience the prisoners would have had. Many people eyes are opened by such experiences and come to appreciate the values of the democratic free countries much more.

Congratulations for the teacher who dared to tackle the difficult subject and has done a lot of preparation to work out her class.

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