The Associated Press ran this article on efforts by public schools across the United States to accommodate the religious practices of Muslim students and to protect these students from harassment after 9/11.
The article first discusses the problem, that is why these efforts are being undertaken by school districts and/or demanded by concerned parents:
- Yasmeen Elsamra, now 14, was not permitted to pray during lunch. ''If I wasn't allowed to pray my second prayer at school, I couldn't do it at home," she said. ''When school finishes, the third prayer begins." The school amended its policy.
- Ingrid Mattson, vice president of the Islamic Society of North America said her children were subject to the following verbal insults: "Hey, Osama, do you have a bomb? Are you going to blow us up? What are you doing with that rag on your head?" Moreover, Mattson's daughter "has had people try to pull her head scarf off." Mattson also noted that others have defended her children.
- Noor Ennab, a fifth-grader in New York City, stated that before 9/11, "we were treated so kind." ''Now it's like, 'You're a terrorist; get out of this country.' "
The accommodations, in light of the above, include:
- A zero-tolerance policy on harassment of Muslim students was adopted by the Broward County school board in Florida, in March 2003.
- In February, Muslim community leaders led the Pledge of Allegiance at a high school in San Antonio, as part of a daylong conference on Islam.
- In Paterson, N.J., schools let some students out of class early on Friday to attend prayers, given parents' permission.
- Paterson is one of a handful of New Jersey districts in which schools are closed for Eid-al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of the fasting and penitence period of Ramadan.
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