Virginia County Shuts Down Schools Following Anger Over Arabic Calligraphy Assignment
Every school in a Virginia County was shut down on Friday after outrage erupted over school work that involved Islam.
Some parents of students at Augusta Co.'s Riverheads High were suggesting a world history class's assignment on Arabic calligraphy constituted nothing less than "Muslim indoctrination."
All scheduled activities were also canceled ahead of the holiday break after the school system told WVIR it received so many phone calls and e-mails following that controversial assignment that they felt they had to close the schools as a precautionary measure.
The assignment--which was drawn from a curriculum that also includes aspects of the Judeo-Christian religious traditions--asked students to practice calligraphy and writing using a statement in Arabic.
The statement translated to: "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah."
The outrage was swift and furious. One particularly angry school mother posted to Facebook soon after learning of the assignment, in a post shared hundreds of times:
"I am preparing to confront the county on this issue of the Muslim indoctrination taking place here in an Augusta county school. This evil has been cloaked [sic] in the form of multiculturalism [sic]. My child was given the creed of the Islam faith to copy.
"This creed that is translated ; There is no god but Allah. Mohammed was Allah's messenger. This is recited during their pledge to the Islamic faith. This creed is connected to Jihad in that it is the chant that is shouted while beheading those of Christian faith."
According to WVIR, the phone calls and anger came from central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, as well as from outside areas.
In a statement dated Dec. 18, Augusta Co. Public Schools wrote:
"The communications have significantly increased in volume today and based on concerns regarding the tone and content of those communications, Sheriff Fisher and Dr. Bond mutually decided schools and school offices will be closed on Friday, December 18, 2015."
The statement said that, while the calligraphy assignment will be changed, the curriculum will continue to include world religions per state requirements.
"Although students will continue to learn about world religions as required by the state Board of Education and the Commonwealth's Standards of Learning, a different, non-religious sample of Arabic calligraphy will be used in the future," the statement read.