Prayer In Islamic Calligraphy Closes Virginia Schools

Islamic Calligraphy Closes Virginia Schools
The Shahada, an Islamic profession of faith as seen on Saudi Arabia's national flag, was inserted in a high school calligraphy lesson. Backlash prompted the school system Augusta County, Va., to close Thursday and Friday. File photo by Gil C/Shutterstock

STAUNTON , Va., Dec. 18 (UPI) — Augusta County, Va., public schools were canceled this week in response to controversy over a geography assignment featuring an Islamic profession of faith.

Classes and activities were canceled Thursday and again Friday after a backlash against a world geography assignment at Riverheads High School in Staunton, Va.

At issue is an assignment demonstrating the artistic complexities of Arabic calligraphy, which included the Shahada, an Islamic proclamation of faith and a common phrase among Muslims during prayer.

“There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of God,” it reads.

The assignment has drawn complaints from parents that the school is promoting Islamic indoctrination. A community meeting was organized as well.

A statement from the school system, posted Thursday evening, said the “tone and content of those communications” caused the closures, and that “a different, non-religious sample of Arabic calligraphy will be used in the future.”

Some parents were upset with the content of the assignment, while others were angry classes and extracurricular activities were canceled.

“Some of those people just don’t understand what exactly was put into that worksheet that the kids were sent home with,” parent Chuck Layman told WHSV-TV, Harrisonburg, Va.

Superintendent Eric Bond issued a statement Friday saying the schools would be closed a second day upon recommendation from the county sheriff’s office.

“The communications have increased in volume today,” he said, adding there was “no specific threat of harm to students.”


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