CAIR monitoring social media of US teachers for Islam-critical expression

From Chron.com

A branch of a Muslim civil rights advocacy group on Wednesday called for a review of the Houston Independent School District's social media policy after they said a school teacher posted anti-Islamic messages on Twitter.

The Council on American Islamic Relations-Houston said the tweets, which included the phrase "Embrace Islam and you embrace death" and photos of mutilated children with a comment stating "Islam did this," could make Muslim students feel unsafe and discriminated against at school.

"For anyone, but especially students, to see something like that, is just unconscionable," said Ruth Nasrullah, a spokeswoman for the group.

HISD officials did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Nasrullah said her group has not yet heard back from HISD and would not reveal the name or any more details about the teacher until speaking with administrators.She said the tweets come at a time of increased Islamophobia in Houston and across the country, highlighted by the election of President Donald Trump, who openly called for a travel ban against Muslims during his campaign. Trump has since limited travel from several Muslim-majority countries.

Based on surveys last year, CAIR estimated that half of all Muslim students in the United States had reported being bullied. According to Georgetown University researchers, anti-Muslim violence was "higher in 2015 than pre-9/11 levels with American Muslims approximately 6 to 9 times more likely to suffer such attacks."

Nasrullah said the local group's call also follows a series of anti-Muslim incidents in local schools in recent years.

A senior government and economics teacher at Foster High School in Richmond resigned in 2015 after handing out materials to students that called Muhammad a "false prophet" and described Islam as an "ideology of war."

In 2014, a third-grade HISD teacher was accused of making profane and anti-Muslim remarks on a public access television show.

Nasrullah said her group is not seeking the teacher's resignation.

"We're not looking to be the police of social media," she said. "We don't want to violate anyone's First Amendment rights either. What CAIR is here to do is protect people from this sort of thing."

Nasrullah said her group is also asking HISD to implement diversity and cultural sensitivity training for its employees.

A Texas Education Agency spokeswoman said there are no current state regulations requiring local school districts to address disparaging racial or religious comments, or even adopt a social media policy - some have them, some don't.

TEA has asked the legislature this year to pass a law requiring school districts to adopt an electronic media policy.

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Published on by Patti Pierucci.