NY school scolded for participating in 'Hijab Day'

Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Bob Kellogg (OneNewsNow.com)

woman in hijabAn attorney is questioning if the church-and-state argument, often cited by atheists to boot religion from public venues, also applies to Islamic dress.

Parents and students at a New York school may be asking that question after female students participated in "World Hijab Day."

The idea came from a Muslim student who said she wanted other students to experience how she feels.

World Hijab Day is an annual event on February 1 that encourages non-Muslim women to experience the life of a Hijabi woman.

Yet the Rochester school, World School of Inquiry, fielded dozens of calls from angry parents after the event, EAG News reported.

Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute says it's one thing for a school to teach students about a religion.

"It's another thing," he says, "to actively encourage and promote participation in that religious or religious culture."

In fact, a school official suggested the school's "perspective" was it did not participate in a religious event. 

The website ArabsinAmerica.com explains, however, that the hijab is a religious decision. Muslim women wear it to "reflect one's personal devotion to God."

Dacus, Brad (PJI)Elsewhere the website explains that Muslim women "declare their Islamic identity and provide witness of their faith" by wearing it.

In a similar incident, Islam expert Robert Spencer described on his website how he debated via email a California high school principal over "Hijab Day," and pushed back against accusations of bigotry and hate.

"As I am sure you’re aware," Spencer wrote in an email, "even student-run events by Christian students have come under fire in public schools in recent years, and many see them as a violation of the Establishment Clause. Would you allow a Wear the Cross Day?"

Despite the hijab's obvious religious meaning, EAG says an attorney advised the school there would be worse legal issues if it refused to hold the event.

The public school crossed a line, Dacus says, and parents had "every reason to object."

Dacus says it was no accident that the parents were not informed ahead of time, claiming that school districts often slight parents when an activity is controversial.   

The school's participation in Hijab Day is a "classic example" of why parents should demand that school districts notify them of such controversial plans, Dacus tells OneNewsNow.

"And hold them accountable when they don't," he says.



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