In July 2003, I rued the fact that, despite the Council on American-Islamic Relations' ugly record,
the U.S. government widely accepts CAIR as representing Islam. The White House invites it to functions, the State Department links to its Web page and Democratic senators rely on its research. In New York City, the mayor appoints its general counsel to the Human Rights Commission and the police department hosts its "sensitivity training" seminar. In Florida, public schools invite it to teach "diversity awareness."
While there is some improvement – notably, the White House seems no longer to welcome CAIR's representatives – the word is not sufficiently out on CAIR's true nature. An item from the entertainment section of today's St Louis Post Dispatch points to the depth of the problem. At the Lewis and Clark Theater on Saturday, Jan. 3, the theater will show "Profiling in America" at 3:30 p.m. and
After Saturday's performances, members of the Japanese American Citizens League and the Council on American-Islamic Relations will lead a discussion on prejudice. These productions aren't usually available to the general public but only to groups, such as schools or community organizations.
One shudders to contemplate the damage that CAIR is doing at schools. Good citizens of St. Louis should attend the event on Jan. 3, inquire about CAIR's access to schools, and then do something about restricting it. (December 29, 2003)
Jan. 20, 2004 update: The Santa Maria Times reports that CAIR sponsored a booth yesterday at the Lompoc High School's 19th Annual Carousel of Cultures in celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
March 30, 2004 update: Ahmad Al-Akhras, president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Ohio Chapter, was a guest speaker at Rosecrans High School in Zanesville, Ohio. According to a newspaper account, "He was invited to speak by the Bishop Rosecrans High School Foundation after one of the board members heard him give a similar program to the Catholic Diocese in Columbus."
May 29, 2008 update: CAIR has visited too many schools over the past four years for me to keep of track off, so I let this blog lapse. But news comes today of a possibly unprecedented rebellion by parents. It took place after Friendswood Junior High School near Houston had a physical education class cancelled on May 22 and, instead, 874 seventh- and eighth-grade students were exposed to a nearly 40-minute presentation on "Islam: Respecting Diversity" by two female CAIR representatives. Included in their PowerPoint presentation were such typical CAIR inaccuracies as there being 6.7 million Muslims in the United States (slide 6) and "'Islam' means peace and submission" (slide 8). Some parents complained to school officials that, as school regulations stipulate, they should have been notified and had the opportunity to pull their children from this presentation.
This incident came to public attention following a discussion of it on local talk radio. "On Thursday, [May 29] listeners to Walton and Johnson on Houston radio station 950 AM were encouraged to call and complain to the school district," writes Ruth Rendon on the Houston Chronicle blog. "On Thursday, the school district was being flooded with calls as a result of the radio broadcast."
May 30, 2008 update: Marcus Rives, a Friendswood city council member, wrote a letter to school board members in which he opined that the next time speakers are invited to share their culture, all faiths are represented. "Why not let Hasidic Jews come in or let Catholics speak or Christians?"
May 31, 2008 update: After a ruckus was raised, the Friendswood school superintendent, Trish Hanks, now reveals that the CAIR presentation came about as a result of an ultimatum CAIR presented to the school authorities following a purported hate crime.
One reaction came from the spokesman for the Houston Area Pastor Council, Pastor Dave Welch, called the presentation "unacceptable." His organization issued a statement calling for the resignation of the school's principal, Robin Lowe: "The failure of the principal of Friendswood Junior High to respect simple procedures requiring parental notification for such a potentially controversial subject, to not only approve but participate personally in a religious indoctrination session led by representatives of a group with well-known links to terrorist organizations and her cavalier response when confronted, raises serious questions about her fitness to serve in that role."
June 5, 2008 update: The Friendswood school district issued a statement that Principal Lowe, "has accepted another administrative position effective immediately." Another report indicates that this change came about at Lowe's own request. In either case, she is a very rare casualty of being pro-CAIR. Also of interest is the president of CAIR's Houston office, Tarek Hussein, revealing that he contacted Lowe after a father of a student at the school complained that his son had been physically attacked on the school grounds due to his being Muslim. To which, David Bradley, a member of the State Board of Education whose district includes Friendswood, replied: "There's a personal incident between two students and as a result of that we're going to yank everyone out of class? I got beat up in junior high. Did my dad go down and force all the kids to sit through sensitivity training in their P.E. class? No, that's absurd. The coach gave us licks and sent us home. That was the end of those incidents."
Feb. 2, 2017 update: Donald Trump's election appears to have spurred a great increase in CAIR's invitations to schools. One example: Hanif Mohebi of the San Diego office claims to have visited more than a dozen schools since the election, as a news report puts it, "to teach students and teachers how to handle bullying of Muslims." It continues:
Pamphlets on how to deal with being bullied said, "Know your rights as a Muslim youth in school." And tips for teachers — like understanding that minimizing eye contact is a sign of respect, not disrespect, among Muslims — were still laid out in bullet points. Mohebi and the [Logan Elementary] school's principal, José Villar, urged the students to learn about Muslims and apply anti-bullying tips to their own lives.
Hanif Mohebi of CAIR addresses students at Logan Elementary School, San Diego.