Yesterday, FCDF sent a data records request to Minneapolis Public Schools, demanding the production of emails that could show whether MPS is unlawfully collaborating with the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) Minnesota chapter to both single out Muslim students for special benefits and revise school curricula to portray Islam in a more “inclusive” light.
In recent months, Minnesotans have raised concerns about CAIR’s influence in MPS and other area school districts. For example, MPS has held CAIR-facilitated teacher workshops called “Increasing Academic Engagement and Cultural Competency with Muslim Students.” MPS has not held workshops about increasing engagement with Christian or Jewish students. CAIR also promotes curriculum revisions that portray Islam more favorably, including revising the narrative about the Palestinian conflict with Israel.
If MPS is singling out Muslim students for favorable treatment, it is violating the First Amendment, which prohibits government from discriminating in favor of one religion. All students must be treated equally, regardless of race or religion.
MPS has a large percentage of Muslim students, especially Somali refugees. School officials nationwide have recognized that Muslim students face challenges with assimilation, including culturally related behavioral conflicts arising between students and school staff. For example, male Muslim students have had difficulty respecting and responding to female teachers due to certain Muslim cultural norms about gender equality. CAIR also claims that schools are hotbeds of “Islamophobia” and Muslim bullying. For these reasons, CAIR pressures school districts to allow them to hold “culturally relevant” sensitivity workshops.
Learning more about students’ cultural and religious backgrounds is no doubt beneficial for teachers. But problems arise when a public school district allows a religious organization to advance its agenda under the guise of ‘promoting tolerance and diversity.’
Indeed, the local community also has expressed concern about CAIR’s access to children and influence over district policy. CAIR’s mission is to promote the “active practice of Islam.” Nihad Awad, CAIR’s National Executive Director, said “informing the American public about the Islamic faith is a religious obligation,” and the purpose of its public school programs is to “create a religious educational environment.” Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s Director of Strategic Communications, stated: “I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future. But I’m not going to do anything violent to promote that. I’m going to do it through education.”
Moreover, although CAIR portrays itself as a social justice advocacy organization, national security and public policy experts have confirmed CAIR’s ties to radical Islam. For example:
- Federal prosecutors have testified that CAIR was founded by members of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood
- CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in financing terrorist activities in the Holy Land Foundation case
- The FBI no longer works with CAIR because of its ties to terrorism
- The United Arab Emirates has designated CAIR as a terrorist organization
“We continue to urge all public school districts, including MPS, to reconsider potential partnerships with CAIR that place the safety of their schoolchildren at risk,” said Piedra. “Allowing a terrorist organization to indoctrinate children defies common sense and undermines the Constitution.”
FCDF is representing five California families in a federal lawsuit challenging the San Diego Unified School District’s “anti-Islamophobia initiative” with CAIR. The Muslim group has hailed the initiative as a pilot program for a nationwide rollout. The parents oppose CAIR’s access to vulnerable children for purposes of proselytization. In response, CAIR contends that the families—whose racial makeup include white, Chinese, and Hispanic and religious makeup Christian, Buddhist, and atheist—are merely “Islamophobes.”
FCDF has asked MPS to respond to the records request within five days.