Legal group threatens NJ school over Muslim posters
WEST NEW YORK — A conservative Christian legal group alarmed by what they believed to be an endorsement of the Muslim faith at Memorial High School threatened to sue this district if they did not take down posters celebrating Ramadan.
A teacher contacted the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund with concerns about two posters that wished a Happy Ramadan and contained the words "May Allah continue to shower your love and wisdom." The teacher also said that Muslim students were randomly entering classrooms to teach about Islam.
The FCDL sent a letter dated May 29 to schools Superintendent Clara Brito Herrera seeking to have the poster removed and the classroom visits halted or face a lawsuit on the grounds that they violated school policy that prohibited acknowledging religious holidays by advancing or inhibiting particular faiths.
A letter from school attorney Lester Taylor III posted by the FCDL stated the posters were removed on May 31 and the posters that were "deemed legally impermissible in a public educational setting have been removed from Memorial High School."
Taylor said the school admitted no wrongdoing and considered the matter "moot."
The FCDF said it found a website sponsored by the North Hudson Islamic Educational Center’s “Dawah Committee" praising the efforts of two Memorial High School students for the creation of the bulletin boards and a banner as part of their "obligations of Dawa" mission to spread the message of Islam in the public schools.
"Way to go," read the post on the website mybestramadam.com. "We pray that other students and parents will follow suit in the near future. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reward them manifold."
The website also thanked the school for "their kindness and inclusivity of our Muslim students."
Ramadan was from May 6 to June 4. During the month, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, when the fast is broken with special meals with family and neighbors.
According to mybestramadan.com, the school created the banner for the students who made presentations in five classes. The students also handed out bags of candy in class.
It was not disclosed who in the district authorized the creation of the banner or allowed the students to go into other classrooms.
Brito Herrera did not return a request for comment.
The FCDF challenged the recognition of Ramadan in several schools around the country during the holiday season.
It threatened a lawsuit against the Northshore School District in Washington over what parents and a teacher perceived as "favoritism" toward Muslim students during Ramadan.
It also threatened a lawsuit against another Washington district over a policy that adopted Council on American-Islamic Relations recommendation that teachers offer blessings in Arabic to make students celebrating Ramadan feel more comfortable in the school.
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