A legal advocacy group urged the Seattle public school district in a letter Monday to end its partnership with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is reportedly working with the district to address Islamophobia in its schools.
CAIR's chapter in the state of Washington launched a crowdfunding campaign in May stating its intention to meet with every public school in Seattle in the upcoming school year to "advocate for our children and foster understanding in schools" across the state.
The Muslim advocacy group, which has testified that it views outreach to schools to be "both a religious and educational exercise," delivered a workshop to a Seattle high school in May that "addressed providing identity-safe spaces in schools for Muslim families" and "how to support students during Ramadan," according to a letter sent to the Seattle School Board from former district Superintendent Larry Nyland.
The Seattle school district's partnership with CAIR, an openly religious organization with known links to a number of anti-Israel groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, to give preferential treatment to Muslim students violates the First Amendment and invites a potential legal challenge, warned The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) in a letter Monday.
"Granting Muslim students preferential treatment creates a clear perception of government endorsement of religion, and it enables CAIR to advance its sectarian agenda in the District," the FCDF stated in its letter. "Thus, a District policy that singles out Muslim students for special benefits — no matter how benign — makes a clear statement that it favors one religion over another or religion to nonreligion."
Furthermore, the letter states, leaders of CAIR have stated publicly their intention to use public schools as "ground zero to advance its religious mission."
CAIR's director of strategic communications, Ibrahim Hooper, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1993 that he would like to see the U.S. government be Islamic, and would see to it "through education."
CAIR's founder, Omar Ahmad, followed up Hooper's statement in 1998 telling the San Ramon Valley Herald that Islam should have dominance over other religions in America and that the Koran should be "the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth."
More recently, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad testified before the National Labor Relations Board in 2016 that informing the American public about the Islamic faith is a religious obligation, and distributing CAIR publications to schools is both a religious and educational exercise.
The Seattle public school district isn't the first to be targeted by CAIR. The Muslim advocacy group initiated a controversial partnership with the San Diego school district in 2016 to develop an anti-Islamophobia bullying initiative.
"If we do this right, San Diego Unified School District would be the leading school district in the nation to come up with a robust and beautiful anti-bully and anti-Islamophobic program," former CAIR-San Diego Executive Director Hanif Mohebi told The San Diego Union-Tribune in April 2017.
The San Diego school board continued to engage with CAIR, despite voting in July 2017 to rescind the arrangement, according to emails obtained by the FCDF in May.
FCDF Executive Director Daniel Piedra said the Seattle school district should tread carefully in its dealings with CAIR.
"CAIR is not infiltrating the District as a wolf in sheep's clothing—this wolf comes as a wolf," Piedra said in a statement.
"Seattle Public Schools has fallen sway to the politically correct, paternalistic notion that Muslim students are victims of so-called 'Islamophobia,'" he added. "Unfortunately, the District has crossed a bright line drawn by our Founders: government neutrality in religion."
Seattle Public Schools did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation when asked for comment.