Dear Friends and Supporters of CAIR-Texas, Houston:
One of our coalition partners, Texas Freedom Network (TFN), informed us of the State Board Of Education (SBOE) misinformation regarding Islam and Muslims within proposed textbooks and products for Texas public school children for the 2015/2016 school years. TFN performed a great service by having various scholars review the textbooks and products. Additionally, your CAIR-TX, Houston office testified Tuesday September 16, 2014 at the SBOE public hearing to refute the errors regarding Islam and Muslims found in the texts and products. The vote to finalize the proposed textbooks is in November 1, 2014. Thus, we are asking you to commit to the following actions:
1. Read the information below that details the proposed textbook misinformation about Islam and Muslims.
2. Go to the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org and copy and paste the information below to the body of the email
3. Send to the SBOE and to email@example.com so that we can track the responses
Thank you and may God bless you for all your efforts.
Dear State Board Of Education members:
I am a concerned (citizen/parent/student/educator) who has been made aware of certain errors with regards to Islam and Muslims within your proposed textbooks and products for the 2015/2016 school years. I feel these mistakes are counter-productive to the education and well being of children in Texas Public schools. Please see the discrepancies listed below and use my response to temper a more accurate, balanced and truthful account of the information about Islam and Muslims within the proposed textbooks and products for the 2015/2016 school years:
Social Studies School Service – Active Classroom: World History
The text states: “Much of the violence you read or hear about in the Middle East is related to Jihad.”
What’s wrong? This broad charge effectively blames Islam for a very complex cycle of violence while ignoring a host of factors. Additionally, the Majority of Muslims understand jihad as a struggle for good, to fight corruption, poverty, and oppression. Physical struggle or Jihad can only be fought in defense and Islam prohibits attacking innocent civilians or non-combatants. Few conflicts are fought solely on the basis of religion. Moreover, religion is merely used to galvanize the masses to join a cause while the primary reason/s for conflict is usually resources i.e. land, minerals, oil, water, etc.
WorldView Software – World History B: Mid-1800’s to the Present
The text states: “The spread of international terrorism is an outgrowth of Islamic fundamentalism which opposes Western political and cultural influences and Western ideology.”
At various points in this product, parts of the Middle East and North Africa are referred to as being “occupied” by “the Muslims” or “in Muslim hands.” The text also adopts the revisionist trope that Islam synthesized, stored and annotated Classical Greek and Roman learning but did not do much to add to it. This serves to minimize the contribution of Islamic scholarship. Further, the use of loaded terms like “occupied” makes little sense when discussing the middle Ages, when the population of those regions were by and large Muslims themselves.
“The statement about international terrorism is inaccurate and misleading. Not all international terrorism is an outgrowth of Islamic fundamentalism; for example, ETA in Spain (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna = Basque Homeland and Freedom) and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) are unrelated to Islamic Fundamentalism.
Terrorist groups with nationalist and political agendas have formed in every part of the world. For example, the Irish Republican Army grew from the quest by Irish Catholics to form an independent republic, rather than being part of Great Britain. Jewish-Zionist terrorists, notably by the Zionist Hagana, Irgun and Stern Gang groups committed acts of terror in their quest to establish a Jewish state. The Sri Lankan Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam also used suicide bombing and other lethal tactics to wage a battle for independence against the Sinhalese majority government. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics Black September, a Palestinian group kidnapped and killed Israeli athletes in effort to achieve their political goal of negotiating the release of Palestinian prisoners and bringing international attention to their national cause.
Religiously motivated terrorism by Groups that justify their violence on Islamic grounds -Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah—come to mind first. But Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and other religions have given rise to their own forms of militant extremism. In the view of religion, scholar Karen Armstrong says this turn represents terrorists’ departure from any real religious precepts. Muhammad Atta, the architect of the 9/11 attacks, and “the Egyptian hijacker who was driving the first plane, was a near alcoholic and was drinking vodka before he boarded the aircraft.” Alcohol would be strictly off limits for a highly observant Muslim. Atta, and perhaps many others, are not simply orthodox believers turned violent, but rather violent extremists who manipulate religious concepts for their own purposes. (Amy Zalman, Ph.D. http://terrorism.about.com/od/whatisterroris1/p/Terrorism.htm).
Cengage Learning – World Cultures and Geography
In a section on the spread of Islam, the text states: “In the centuries after Muhammad’s death, Muslims spread their religion by conquest. Islamic rulers took control of Southwest Asia, Central Asia, North Africa and parts of India and Spain.”
What’s wrong? This is a half-truth. While in this period Islam did spread in part by conquest, it was also take to many regions (for instance, Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia) by traders and missionaries, not by conquest.
McGraw-Hill School Education – World Geography
An image of Muslim women wearing chadors, a large piece of cloth that is wrapped around the head and upper body leaving only the face exposed, worn especially by Muslim women and similar to Catholic nuns is accompanied by two discussion questions:
1. The first question asks how wearing the chador affects women’s interactions in public. The suggested answer is: “The chador limits women’s interactions in public as it makes them indistinguishable from one another and inhibits any kind of contact.”
2. The second question asks what the chador reveals: the suggested answer is “that even in countries that claim there is equality for women, religious law still hinders women’s rights.”
What’s wrong? Both suggested answers are incorrect. Unlike the full body burqa, the chador or hijab leaves the face uncovered, and thus does not inhibit facial “contact,” such as eye contact, facial expressions, or touching/kissing the face.
Second, as part of their ground-breaking six-year project Gallup conducted tens of thousands of interviews with residents in more than 35 predominantly Muslim nations, as well as smaller proportions in Europe and the USA. The broad context of the polling delivered findings for the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims with a plus or minus accuracy of 3 percentage points. These results are the basis of the book, Who Speaks for Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think, by John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed.
According to their findings the majority of Muslim women across the Muslim world view the hijab or chador as a religious obligation, and do not believe that religious law prohibits women’s rights. To the contrary, according to the findings these women have used religious law to assert their rights. Thus, one cannot infer that the chador/hijab per se hinders women’s rights. This passage offers a highly misleading picture of the status of women in Islam.
Please reconsider by adopting a corrected balanced narrative regarding Islam and Muslims. I am concerned about the well being of our children. This kind of misinformation cannot only have a negative affect on the esteem, self worth, and educational performance of Muslim children in public classrooms, but can encourage bullying, and taunting, and physical and psychological injury towards Muslim children. Your cooperation in this matter is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
(Your name & title)