A lawsuit has been filed in federal court over a new anti-bullying program approved by the San Diego school district and backed by CAIR, saying it is unconstitutional because it is solely about Muslim students, establishing them “as a privileged group within the school community.
The lawsuit was initiated by the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF), which advocates for religious liberty, sued on behalf of Citizens for Quality Education in San Diego (CQE-SD), San Diego Asian Americans for Equality (SDAAFE) and several parents.
The program is designed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is “intrinsically religious in nature, the lawsuit says. The program therefore violates the First Amendment’s Establishment clause.
“CAIR counts itself as a religious organization, and they are obviously the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country,” FCDF President Charles LiMandri told the Investigative Project on Terrorism. “If [San Diego public schools] are entangled with CAIR, that’s another grounds for finding it unconstitutional.
“Both the purpose, effect and entanglement, we feel all cross the line.”
The suit does not mention it, but partnering with CAIR also is problematic due to its ties to Hamas. Those connections led the FBI to end formal contacts with the group in 2008.
A federal judge found that “prima facie” evidence connects CAIR to a Hamas support network in America.
“San Diego Unified does not favor any religion over another,” Stan Anjan, the school district’s executive director of Family and Community Engagement, wrote in a February e-mail to The San Diego Union-Tribune. “We welcome all students from all faiths within our school community.”
The San Diego school board unanimously approved the program April 4. It increases what students learn about Islam in class. Schools will have safe places for Muslim students. While no religious holidays appear on the current school district calendar, Muslim holidays soon will, and campus events falling on those holidays will be rescheduled. The district also promises to “provide resources and strategies to support students during the upcoming month for Ramadan.”
Students accused of bullying Muslim students will face “restorative justice,” requiring them to reconcile with the other student. Under the SDUSD plan, the district will provide monthly reports on the bullying of Muslim students and post them online. A student who bullies non-Muslim students based on their religion will not face “restorative justice,” LiMandri said.
This change means greater emphasis on prominent Muslims and their impact on history will appear in social studies lessons. The program also will promote a positive image of Islam, reducing the traditional Europe-centered approach.
The vast policy changes passed even though scant evidence exists that Muslim students face disproportionate harassment based on their religion.
School district data for the second half of 2016, finds only seven examples of bullying based on religion, the lawsuit says. It is not known how many of those targeted were Muslim students.
“You have to look at both the purpose and the effect; there is no need for an anti-bullying program for Islamic students based on the statistics and data that we have,” LiMandri said.
In May 2007, the U.S. filed an action against the Holy Land Foundation (the largest Muslim charity in the United States at the time for providing funds to Hamas, and federal prosecutors filed pleadings.
The organization was named, along with 245 others, by U.S. Federal prosecutors in a list of unindicted co-conspirators or joint ventures in a Hamas funding case involving the Holy Land Foundation, which in 2009 caused the FBI to cease working with CAIR outside of criminal investigations due to its designation.
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