Earlier in the week, members of the politically aggressive American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC) that was formed in 2011 with the support of the Haslam administration, scored a sit-down meeting with Speaker Beth Harwell to discuss the problem of bullying in schools.
As reported by WKRN, the group told Harwell that they want a bill that would protect students who are bullied because of their religion.
Islamist activists in Tennessee connect bullying in school to Islamophobia which they claim leads to being regularly victimized or bullied because of their religion. In 2013, AMAC teamed up with Obama-appointed U.S. Attorney Bill Killian, to talk about Islamophobia as a means to suppress criticism of Muslims or Islam. At the time, Killian said that he would use federal civil rights laws to stop legally permissible hate speech directed at Muslims.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s state bias-crime statistics reflect a different reality in Tennessee. The numbers consistently show that followers of faiths other than Islam suffer higher numbers of bias-related crimes.
Anti-bullying proposals are being offered by Islamist groups in other parts of the country to counter Islamophobia and to expand school privileges for Muslim students.
The San Diego Unified School District worked with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) to implement “an anti-Islamophobia initiative to combat what it described as a vast and underreported epidemic of anti-Muslim bullying in the district’s schools.”
The anti-bullying plan included:
Adding Muslim holidays to staff calendars, introducing new library materials on Muslim culture, encouraging Muslim-centered high school clubs, creating ‘safe spaces’ for Muslim students and providing staff training about Muslim culture.
The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) has sued challenging the constitutionality of the district’s plan to protect Muslim students. This week a judge ordered the school district to hand over its correspondence with CAIR related to the Islamophobia bullying policy.
The suit raises other issues because of the school district’s entanglement with CAIR, an advocacy organization whose objectives are pursued by promoting the Islamic religion. Issues raised by the FCDF suit include CAIR making recommendations for curriculum and instructional material changes and using the proposed anti-bullying plan to proselytize Islam to students.
Similar entanglements are evident in the Metro Nashville Public Schools’ relationship with AMAC. Another founding member of AMAC, Rashed Fakhruddin, president of the Islamic Center of Nashville, helps educate Metro social studies teachers about his religion and students from Metro schools visit his mosque where they are taught about Islam. The religious instruction has been defended by Anna Shepherd, Chairman of the Metro Nashville School Board.
Claims of Islamophobia have also been used by AMAC board member Sabina Mohyuddin to proselytize Islam at a Muslim Student Association program Understanding Islamophobia in America. Mohyuddin told students at Sewanee that the way to “deter Islamophobia” is to become educated about Islam and listen to more Muslim speakers.
Mohyuddin, a board member and program director for AMAC, also attended the meeting with Harwell.
Last year when changes to Tennessee’s social studies standards related to the teaching of Islam were proposed, CAIR called the proposed changes evidence of Islamophobia.
AMAC founding member, Kasar Abdullah, a Kurdish refugee whose family resettled in Nashville who attended the meeting with Harwell, was also dissatisfied with the proposed changes in the teaching standards. Along with her political activism on behalf of Tennessee Muslims, she works at Valor Collegiate Academy charter school and teaches Muslim diversity and sensitivity training to faculty at Nashville-area schools.
After the meeting, Abdullah reminded WKRN’s reporter that she would use her vote to hold legislators accountable.
The Star asked Speaker Harwell’s office for a copy of her official schedule to see what other groups or individuals were able to have the Speaker’s undivided attention to discuss bills. Her office did not respond.