A federal judge has sided with the Council on American-Islamic Relations and against students and parents in the San Diego school district in their fight against a program that provides special protections and considerations to Islam that are not provided to other religions.
Judge Cynthia Bashant this week refused to grant a preliminary injunction against the district's pro-Islam activities, citing a wide range of factors. She concluded such issues are "matters which the courts ought to entrust very largely to the experienced officials who superintend our nation's public schools."
At issue is an agreement between the district and CAIR purportedly to combat bullying.
The school district has modified its deal with CAIR, which has been designated by the United Arab Emirates as a terror organization. The U.S. government has confirmed that CAIR is a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood, which advocates a worldwide Islamic caliphate with zero tolerance for other religions.
The Anti-Defamation League has condemned CAIR as a Muslim Brotherhood front group that continues "to partner with various anti-Israel groups that seek to isolate and demonize the Jewish state."
Bashant earlier forbade references to those subjects in her courtroom as irrelevant.
School officials voted in April 2017 to enter into a formal partnership with CAIR. Books were purchased and distributed.
Then in the face of resistance from parents, the board modified its plan and established an "intercultural" committee, telling CAIR it still was a major partner in the work.
The parents raised questions about the district's violations, through its anti-bullying, anti-Islamophobia effort, of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution and California state law. The plaintiffs pointed out there were almost no complaints of bullying of Muslim students. And there were many more complaints of bullying against other students, including Jewish students.
The case still will go to trial on the issues, but the decision this week means there are not the restrictions on school advocacy that the parents had requested pending the trial.
The judge claimed there was no evidence to support the parents' contention the district gave Muslim students benefits not given to other students, despite the fact that the district doesn't not have any "Christianophobia" or other outreach efforts.
"The judge was going to rule against us no matter what," said Dan Piedra, chief of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, in an interview with the Investigative Project on Terrorism. "We are most likely going to appeal the decision to the ninth Circuit, and if we get a favorable panel, then we can get an injunction pending appeal. Her analysis about the Establishment Clause is clearly wrong."
Even the judge admitted the school district's plan was to "develop an anti-Islamophobia Initiative … to address Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bullying and the district's decision in April 2017 to adopt implementing 'action steps.'"
The parents complained that the district was entangling itself with a religious organization to fight a "Muslim bullying crisis" that didn't exist.
The entire district reported to the California Department of Education in 2015 and 2016 "just two instances [of bullying] related to Muslim students."
Even so, the school's plan included distributing a letter to staff and parents "addressing Islamophobia," recognizing Muslim holidays, providing special resources during the month of Ramadan, reviewing materials related to Muslim culture and exploring and engaging informal partnerships with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The judge also said the plaintiffs allegations of spiritual injury failed.
For example, she said the allegations from plaintiffs who "perceive the initiative as the district's endorsement of Islam and a rejection of other religions" and that defendants' conduct "sends a clear message to student plaintiffs that they are outsiders, not full members of the school community, while sending an accompanying message that Muslim students are insiders, full members of the school community," persuaded her not at all.
Bashant's ruling said there was no irreparable harm imminent and that students and parents have no standing to prevent an "incidental" benefit to a religion."
FCDF also is asking Seattle public schools for information about their "developing collaboration" with CAIR.
It has filed a public records request with the district to see what's going on.
"The First Amendment forbids a public school district from singling out a religious sect for preferential treatment," said Piedra. "We hope that shedding light on the extent of the Seattle school district's discriminatory actions will be an important step in preventing religious favoritism."
The organization said the district's relationship with CAIR is "particularly concerning."
CAIR calls itself "America's largest Islamic civil rights liberties group," but a co-founder, Omar Ahmad, "stated that Islam should be America's dominant religion and that the Quran should be 'the highest authority in America.'"
The letter to the Seattle schools seeks copies of all records containing communications to or from CAIR and any with terms such as "Islamophobia," "Ramadan," "CAIR" or "Muslim."
'The true faith, Islam'
The influence of Islam in public schools has become a nationwide issue.
In May 2017, in Groesbeck, Texas, a couple moved their sixth-grade daughter to a new school after they discovered her history homework assignment on Islam.
In late March 2017, as WND reported, a middle school in Chatham, New Jersey, was using a cartoon video to teach the Five Pillars of Islam to seventh-grade students, prompting two parents to obtain legal services to fight the school district, which has ignored their concerns.
WND also reported in March 2017 a high school in Frisco, Texas, set up an Islamic prayer room specifically for Muslim students to pray on campus during school hours. The same type of prayer rooms have been set up in high schools in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and other school districts.
In 2015, parents in Tennessee asked the governor, legislature and state education department to investigate pro-Islam bias in textbooks and other materials.
WND reported in 2012 ACT for America conducted an analysis of 38 textbooks used in the sixth through 12th grades in public schools and found that since the 1990s, discussions of Islam are taking up more and more pages, while the space devoted to Judaism and Christianity has simultaneously decreased.
In 2009, Gilbert T. Sewall, director of the American Textbook Council, a group that reviews history books, told Fox News the texts were "whitewashing" Islamic extremism and key subjects such as jihad, Islamic law and the status of women.
Also in 2009, WND reported the middle school textbook "History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond," published by Teachers' Curriculum Institute, said an Islamic "jihad" is an effort by Muslims to convince "others to take up worthy causes, such as funding medical research."
In 2006, WND reported a school in Oregon taught Islam by having students study and learn Muslim prayers and dress as Muslims.
WND reported in 2003 a prominent Muslim leader who eventually was convicted on terror-related charges helped write the "Religious Expression in Public Schools" guidelines issued by President Bill Clinton.
In 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, seventh graders in Byron, California, were taught a three-week course on Islam that required them to learn 25 Islamic terms, 20 proverbs, Islam's Five Pillars of Faith, 10 key Islamic prophets and disciples, recite from the Quran, wear a robe during class, adopt a Muslim name and stage their own "holy war" in a dice game.
Parents went to court to uphold their right to reject the class for their children, but a federal judge ruled against them, and in 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider their appeal.