This is the kind of story that is designed to tug on the heartstrings: here is a good boy, a pious boy, and all he wants is a few minutes out of the school day to fulfill his religious obligations, but the soulless wheels of bureaucracy turn in vain, and the whole thing has become a snafu. Why do things have to be this complicated? Can’t you just let the boy pray?
Unfortunately, however, there are other issues involved. The ACLU has been working for decades to keep Christian prayer out of public schools. Now, as you can see in this article, school officials are anxious to be accommodating of Muslim prayer in this public school. The bottom line is that policies should be formulated and enforced consistently; the fact that Islam has obligatory prayer at specified times and Christianity does not should not become a pretext to allow Muslim students privileges in public schools that Christian students do not have.
It must also be recognized that the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization dedicated in its own words to “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within, and sabotaging its miserable house…so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions,” is working in the United States to insinuate elements of Islamic law into American businesses, schools, and other institutions, and to reinforce the principle that where Islamic law and American law conflict, it is American law that must give way. I detail numerous examples of such initiatives in my book Stealth Jihad.
A cornerstone of this effort has been a campaign to bring prayer back into public schools — Islamic prayer. Thus public schools in the Atlanta area opted in October 2004, after meetings with Islamic leaders (whose efforts were coordinated by none other than the Council on American-Islamic Relations), to allow Muslim students to be excused from class for Islamic Friday prayers. And in San Diego’s Carver Elementary School, when over one hundred Somali Muslim students enrolled after a charter school closed in 2006, school officials scheduled breaks so that Muslim students could pray during school time, and even introduced sex-segregated classes to conform to Islamic sensibilities. Pork, of course, vanished from the school cafeteria, and Arabic classes were added to the curriculum. Investor’s Business Daily went straight to the heart of the problem when it editorialized, “In effect, Carver administrators have carved out a school within a school expressly for Muslims, elevating them above Christian and Jewish students. They”ve had 15 minutes of instruction time taken away from them, so Muslims can roll out their prayer mats. It amounts to a special privilege afforded a specific religion, which plainly does not have our best interests at heart.”
Some of these accommodations were later dropped after a public outcry, but since public awareness of the stealth jihad agenda remain abysmal, these kinds of accommodations will inevitably recur, sometime, at another public school.
WAYNE “” Rola Awwad wants a private space for her 10-year-old son at Albert Payson Terhune Elementary School to exercise his right to Muslim prayer.
The school district had offered to let him pray at recess “” either outside or in a classroom while classmates are there. And that, says Awwad, is “unacceptable.”
All students are constitutionally guaranteed the right to pray during the school day as long as it doesn’t interfere with learning. But Wayne is struggling with what accommodations to make if a Muslim student requests privacy for prayer.
The answer in other North Jersey districts ranges from providing access to the principal’s office, to providing a spare room. But school administrators in suburban Wayne have been weighing the question since fall, when Awwad asked the principal to allow her son, Adam, a few minutes of privacy each afternoon to pray.
The district says it’s concerned about allowing a young pupil to be unsupervised, even for a short time, and Awwad said her request was met with resistance.
“Why can’t he be on his own for five minutes praying?” said Awwad, a Palestinian who moved to the United States from Jordan 11 years ago.
She said it’s important to her that her children go to public school and make diverse friends. But she also wants them to be able to practice their religion.
“All I want from the school is to let my son pray in a private place in a small room, say his prayer and go back to class,” she said.
Muslims pray five times a day to reaffirm their faith and submit to follow divine commandments. The prayer is said during prescribed times; in the fall, when the clocks roll back at the end of daylight savings time, the afternoon prayer must be said during the school day, Awwad explained.
Federal guidelines say schools can’t prevent students from praying during school hours, but schools can’t sponsor religious activities or lead students in prayer. But the guidelines don’t provide specifics on how schools should handle requests like Awwad’s. And because that’s left to the discretion of school administrators, North Jersey districts have responded with a hodgepodge of approaches.
In Passaic, an elementary school student is allowed to pray privately in a classroom storage closet, Superintendent Robert Holster said. A middle school principal in Cliffside Park allows a student to pray in her office, Superintendent Michael Romagnino said. If an elementary school child wanted a private place to pray, the superintendent said he would ask the principal to make an accommodation in an available office.
And Teaneck High School sets aside a room where Muslim students are allowed to go and say their prayers, said district spokesman Dave Bicofsky….
School board Attorney John Croot said the district thought it had made an “acceptable accommodation” when it offered to let Muslim students pray outside during lunch, or inside in a classroom in days of bad weather. He said the district is trying to strike a balance between constitutional principles.
For school officials, the issue is complicated by the degree of religious practice: For instance, federal guidelines specifically mention a student’s right to quietly read the Bible during lunch. But the guidelines are not clear on what a district should do when the expression of religion is more demonstrative, as it is in Adam’s case.
“Then you are talking about a public school district,” Croot said. “You have to carefully weigh the constitutional issues. It’s a balance between the free exercise of religion and the concept of the separation of church and state. It’s a public school district and you have to consider those constitutional issues.”
Croot said he sought guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and was advised the district should have a consistent approach.
Awwad told the district in a letter that its latest accommodation “is unacceptable.” Her son would have to put his prayer mat and touch his forehead on the damp ground if he prayed outside. And she said Adam was worried that other students would ridicule him if he prayed in the classroom.
Croot said “nothing has been foreclosed yet. We are still in discussions. We have indicated one possible accommodation that would have been acceptable, but there may be other accommodations that we could reach.”