A public charter school in California is being criticized after some of its students reportedly organized an event on campus called “Hijab Day.”
As part of their senior project, some students at Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep have created the event as a way of teaching others about Muslim culture and fostering a more tolerant student body, reports Fox 40.
Students will reportedly have the opportunity to learn the proper way to wear a headscarf, something that a student named Amna said would help non-Muslim students accept the fact that headscarves are an important part of their culture and religion.
Principal Tom Rutten said he supports the event, but told Fox 40 that it is “not school sponsored” and that the administration is “not forcing an opinion on anyone.”
Not everyone agrees.
Folks from around the country are reportedly complaining that Hijab Day ignores separation of church and state, with Rutten fielding many calls from the public.
"Some people just wanted to yell," Rutten told Fox 40. "Pretty close-minded."
One woman, who described herself as a “taxpayer, Girl Scout leader, and public education advocate” wrote a letter to Rutten, reports Jihad Watch:
Encouraging girls and women to wear hijabs for “modesty” is clearly an example of religious indoctrination. Can you imagine the public outrage if a Jewish student requested “Yarmulke Day” and all men and boys at the school were urged to wear a head covering of the type that Jewish men and boys wear?
The student who organized the event reportedly wrote the following statement to Fox 40 in response to the controversy:
At a time when anti-Muslim sentiment is growing, I wanted to let my classmates and teachers know about the challenges that young Muslim women face when they put on a headscarf. It is unfortunate that a small effort to promote mutual understanding would provoke such a hate-filled and irrational response.
NP3 Hijab Day was part of my Senior Project, meant to bring awareness to my campus about the misconceptions surrounding Islam, particularly those surrounding the headscarf. I invited a speaker to talk to faculty about addressing Islamophobia in the classroom and the challenges in the Muslim world, and they appreciated the open and frank discussion.
The irrational reaction by some intolerant individuals is similar to the many manufactured controversies nationwide over the teaching of basic information about Islam, the faith of one-fifth of the world’s population, in public schools. In many other cases, any discussion of Islam or American Muslims brings about this reaction.
The person who promoted the misinformation about this issue, Robert Spencer, is one of the most notorious Islamophobes in America.
This extreme reaction clearly demonstrates why this presentation was needed in the first place.