Middle East studies in the News
Indiana Parents Slam Middle School Lesson Glorifying Sharia Law
by Victor Skinner
Parents of students at a southern Indiana middle school are sounding off over a lesson about Sharia law they believe glorifies the Islamic practice and omits pertinent facts.
"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," parent Dean Hohl told members of the New Albany-Floyd County School Board this week, the Courier-Journal reports.
"I'm just not OK with my daughter – or any child that age – leaving class with the understanding that anything about Sharia law is OK."
Hohl was among numerous parents who addressed board members over a lesson handed out to seventh-graders at Highland Hills Middle School that focuses on a 20-year-old Saudi Arabian woman who feels "very fortunate" to live under Sharia law.
Sharia is a code of Islamic law tied to precepts of Islam spelled out in the Quran and Hadith, Islamic religious texts. The law governs many issues for followers of Islam, including crime, politics, marriage, trade, sex, hygiene, diet, and prayer, and is widely criticized in the western world for conflicts with modern government, human and women's rights, and free thought.
In the Highland Hills assignment, the Islamic woman, named Ahlima, discusses how she is soon to become a man's second wife and addresses the Sharia law that requires woman to cloak themselves, Fox 59 reports.
"I understand that some foreigners see our dress as a way of keeping women from being equal, but ... I find Western women's clothing to be horribly immodest," Ahlima said.
Jon Baker, whose daughter received the worksheet, told the Courier-Journal "that document by itself, it's almost propaganda.
"If you read that," he said, "you would think everything's wonderful in that world."
The worksheet was created by Sharon Coletti, president of InspirEd Educations, who said the situation in New Albany isn't the first time the worksheet has drawn scorn from parents.
She received similar complaints when it was used at a middle school in Smyrna, Ga., in 2011, and she plans to remove it from the company's curriculum, though she defended the assignment as an engaging lesson about stereotypes. Coletti said she's a Christian and a long-time educator, and wasn't aiming to indoctrinate students
"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," she told the news site. "I want (students) to be patriotic. I want them to be problem-solvers."
Parents like Hohl, however, want their children to be presented with all of the facts about Islam and Sharia, rather than the selected positive aspects, so students understand the difference between "moderate Muslims" and extremists.
"Let's tell the whole truth," he said. "Let's help people understand what's really happening and what the rest of the world is like so when they are interacting with the rest of their global peer group, we can reduce the likelihood of conflict and misunderstanding."
New Albany-Floyd County Schools spokesman Bill Briscoe told the Courier-Journal the complaints from parents prompted district officials to conduct a closer review of the curriculum.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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