Homework Has Caused an Outrage and Protest in Virginia

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(Newswire.net — December 18, 2015) — In recent weeks there have been many incidents regarding Islam. People have started attacking their Muslim fellow citizens both verbally and physically, but it turns out that even schools have become a kind of religious battlefield.

What used to be a typical homework assignment on world religions, has become the cause for shutting down schools in Virginia county.

A lesson of world geography which partly consisted of Arabic calligraphy writing turned into a religious and educational discussion and protest, which resulted in closing all schools in Augusta County on Friday.

“While there has been no specific threat or harm to students, schools and school offices will be closed Friday, December 18, 2015”, Augusta County Schools said. All extracurricular activities were suspended, too.

It was an ordinary world geography class at Riverheads High School in Staunton, on major religions in the world. For homework, students were asked to copy a piece of calligraphy that said: “Here is the shahada, the Islamic statement of faith, written in Arabic. In the space below, try copying by hand. This should give you an idea of the artistic complexity of calligraphy”.

The phrase they were asked to copy translated into English means: “There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is the messenger of Allah”.

When parents were shown what the homework was, the avalanche was moved. They were outraged and thought their children were being converted to Islam. The school was piled with angry e-mails and calls in which parents demanded that the teacher who had given the homework be fired immediately.

Cheryl LaPorte, the teacher who gave the assignment had not even thought of it herself, but as the local newspaper The News Leader reported, she took it from the world religious standard workbook.

The county school board reacted and issued a statement: “Neither of the lessons, nor any other lessons in the world geography course are an attempt at indoctrination to Islam or any other religion or a request for students to renounce their own faith or profess any belief. A different, non-religious sample of Arabic calligraphy will be used in the future”, Augusta County Schools’ official Eric Bond said in a statement to CNN officiate WHSV.

The school pointed out that the homework was in accordance with the Virginia Department of Education Standards of Learning and that schools also teach other religions in these classes.

All this wasn’t satisfactory for 24,000 residents of the town who continued to protest against the teacher, while at the same time her ex-students started defending her on Facebook page, which was taken offline eventually, according to the News Leader.

One of the students, Kari Watson said: “I love this school and Mrs. LaPorte is a wonderful teacher. It is outrageous to believe that she is trying to convert anyone to Islam. Please, choose your media outlets wisely and be aware of what you’re spreading”.

Although LaPorte received a lot of support from her students, the complaints from parents and other people have not stopped.