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Plumes of smoke billow from the World Trade Center. Photo: Michael Foran Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

CAIR: Schools should address Islamophobia as a consequence of 9/11

On the occasion of the remembrance day for the victims of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), America’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, published an article titled “Schools Must Address 9/11 Accurately and Without Anti-Muslim Bigotry.” The article was authored by Dr. Abbas Barzegar, PhD, Research & Advocacy Director of CAIR and Edward Ahmed Mitchell, Esq., Deputy Director of CAIR.

Barzegar and Mitchell wrote in their joint article:

Almost twenty years have passed since Al-Qaeda attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania…

Imagine a Muslim fifth grader who watches silently as his teacher plays video footage of an airplane slamming into the World Trade Center, attributes the attack to “Radical Islamic Terrorism,” and claims that Muslims around the world celebrated 9/11 or failed to condemn it.

This is not merely a scenario; this is real fear for too many Muslim families and students on every anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

How, then, to solve a problem that arises almost every year?

First, teachers should carefully vet the 9/11 materials they use — particularly any video documentaries and documents found online. Teachers should run such materials by both school administrators and external experts to ensure that the content is accurate and created by appropriate sources…

Second, schools should give serious thought about which grade levels are old enough and mature to sit through a 9/11 lesson plan…

Third, school-wide memorials and moments of silence are laudable ways to remember the victims of 9/11…

Fourth, teachers with Muslim students in the classroom — or students often confused as Muslim, such as Sikhs — should consider consulting with parents about the lesson plan in advance to ensure that their children do not experience bullying as a result of a botched classroom exercise.

Finally, addressing anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamophobia as a consequence of 9/11 should be a key component of teaching about that pivotal moment in our country’s history…

For this dimension of the curriculum, school districts should harness their social studies and diversity, equity, inclusion work to address anti-Muslim bigotry, which threatens to warp the minds of all students at a young age, not just Muslim students. Schools can also look to lesson plans about Islam and Islamophobia created by organizations like Teaching Tolerance…

About Rachel Ehrenfeld

Rachel Ehrenfeld
Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld is Founder and President of the New York-based American Center for Democracy, and the Economic Warfare Institute. Dr. Ehrenfeld has authored academic and policy papers and more than one thousand articles. Her books include FUNDING EVIL: How Terrorism is Financed – and How to Stop Ii (2011) • EVIL MONEY (HarperCollins, 1992,1994). Her latest book project is on The Economic Warfare against the U.S. from Within and Without. • NARCOTERRORISM (Basic Books, 1990, 1992).

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