On Florida’s Atlantic Coast, some 200 or more local parents and activists have announced plans to show up at Tuesday’s Volusia County school board meeting to protest the public school use of a world history textbook that devotes a whole chapter to Islam but exactly zero chapters to any other religions.
The textbook, called simply “World History,” contains a 32-page chapter fondly devoted to “Muslim Civilizations.” Sections include descriptions of the Koran, the growth of the Muslim empire and the Five Pillars of Islam.
The planned protest will include a demand that students rip out the 32 pages of the Islam chapter unless the school district agrees to provide students with a similar amount of officially-sanctioned material concerning other religions, reports local ABC affiliate WFTV.
The seeds for the Wednesday protest were reportedly planted after an unidentified local mother started a Facebook page demanding that local, taxpayer-funded schools stop using the textbook.
The district indicated that it will continue to use the controversial book.
School district officials in Volusia County insist that there’s no problem because other religions come up as a matter of course in the book. Thus, the argument goes, there’s no need to have a single chapter dedicated to, say, the Gospels or the Pentateuch—or, for that matter, Hindu or Buddhist religious traditions.
“Christianity and Judaism is [sic] spread throughout the book,” a school district spokeswoman told WFTV.
The book’s supporters also argue that students know about Christianity but need to learn more about Islam because of its crucial importance in international affairs.
On Monday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a statement criticizing the protesters.
“This group is displaying an alarming level of intolerance and brazen disregard of minority religions here in the US. We find their actions Un-American and against every core principal that makes this country so great,” CAIR said.
Critics of the textbook include District 2 Deltona commissioner Webster Barnaby, who told WFTV that he is only seeking equal time for other religions, specifically Christianity.
“The problem is: there needs to be balance. In America today, Christianity is being relegated to the trash heap,” Barnaby told the station.
“Why relegate Christianity to a footnote in an entire history book, and you give an entire chapter on the teachings of Islam?” he added.
“To suggest that everybody knows about Christianity, that is total ignorance,” Barnaby also said.
The “World History” textbook is one of three textbooks covering similar material that meet Florida’s criteria for adoption by the state’s public schools.
As a school district spokeswoman noted, one reason school districts select this book is because it covers information required under Florida’s Next Generation Sunshine State Standards—the state’s version of the Common Core.