Middle East studies in the News
Public School Parents Angry After Middle Schoolers Learn How Sharia Law Is Totally Awesome
by Eric Owens
A group of parents in Southern Indiana has expressed alarm because their children in the local taxpayer-funded middle school are learning that Sharia law is a delightful concept beloved by women forced to live under its yoke.
The Sharia-related assignment at issue is for seventh-grade students at Highland Hills Middle School, just north of Louisville, reports The Courier-Journal, the main regional newspaper.
The assignment provides a reading passage ostensibly written by a 20-year-old woman named Ahlima who resides in Saudi Arabia.
Ahlima says she feels "very fortunate" to be governed by Sharia law — the notorious Islamic penal code which, in countries such as Saudi Arabia, includes the practice of cutting off the hands of criminals who steal. She observes that she is about to become some guy's second wife. She supports the repressive clothes women in Saudi Arabia must wear. "I understand that some foreigners see our dress as a way of keeping women from being equal," Ahlima writes. "I find Western women's clothing to be horribly immodest."
Ahlima is, of course, completely fictional. She is a character who appears to have sprung from the imagination of Sharon Coletti, the president of InspirEd Educators. Colleti — whose business website is a veritable cornucopia of comic sans font — said the completely fictitious character of Ahlima is based on someone she once saw being interviewed on a television news program.
Parents say the assignment disregards the ultra-oppressive lack of freedom and the morass of human rights violations which exist in Saudi Arabia and under Sharia law in some Muslim countries.
"The way that the worksheet is left would be like describing how effective Hitler was at nationalizing Germany and creating patriotism but leaving out that he slaughtered 6 million Jews," frustrated parent Dean Hohl declared at a recent New Albany-Floyd County school board meeting, according to The Courier-Journal.
"I'm just not okay with my daughter — or any child that age — leaving class with the understanding that anything about Sharia law is okay," Hohl also said.
Another parent, Jon Baker, described the assignment as "almost propaganda." "If you read that, you would think everything's wonderful in that world."
Both Hohl and Baker have seventh-grade children who received the Sharia assignment.
Coletti, the creator of the assignment, defended her work.
"If I can shape something so that kids have to decide for themselves, once I get them involved in the situation, they never forget it," the former social studies teacher told The Courier-Journal.
Coletti, who describes herself as a practicing Christian, also said she hopes her materials help student to become "patriotic" and "problem-solvers."
However, the fictional story of 20-year-old Ahlima who is becoming a second wife and loves to wear repressive clothing is apparently no longer for this world after the Highland Hills Middle School kerfuffle.
Coletti said she will retire the assignment and related material going forward because she doesn't want to court bad press.
The same assignment has caused parents to be angry in the past. In 2011, parents in Smyrna, Georgia accused Coletti of "indoctrinating" middle school children with the Sharia lesson. There were death threats during that fracas.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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