Here’s a round-up of the extensive news coverage for the Stop the Madrassa News Conference, held September 4 on the New York City Hall steps. As you can see from the excerpts of coverage below and the videos and photos that start the links to coverage, press interest is intense in our next legal steps and expansion nationwide.
This is not all the coverage – Longer programs were done on CNN, Glenn Beck, Fox, Colmes radio show, as well as numerous radio interviews across the country. Stop The Madrassa volunteers have also discussed the KGIA scandal with reporters from Japan, France, Israel, Poland, the United Kingdom and several U.S. states.
First some photos so you can see the press attendance at the news conference:
From Urban Infidel:
With more photos and a report: http://urbaninfidel.blogspot.com/2007/09/opening-day-of-school-press-conference.html
Video of the Press Conference from Atlas Shrugs:
Here are excerpts from some of the press reports of the News Conference:
CNN: New York public school accused of radical Islamist agenda
But a group called “Stop the Madrassa” insists there’s a more sinister agenda and is demanding the academy be closed.”We are paying with our public dollar for a religious school, a madrassa,” said Pamela Hall, a member of the group.
“The Arabic immigrant students will be isolated,” Hall said. “Whether that materializes instantly into terrorists, that’s a huge statement to make. But are these students not assimilating and becoming part of the American fabric? And is that potentially a problem? We think so, yes.”
ABC World News with Charles Gibson: Protest Greets the Opening of an Arabic School in New York
Critics worry that students will be indoctrinated and point to the fact that the school’s first principal resigned after defending T-shirts that carry the word “intifada.”
“I think there’s a special problem with an Arab school because of the reality of the world that we live in today,” said Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind. “The sad reality is that a lot of the terrorism, not a lot, almost all of it, has come from a particular community — a minority — but a particular community. That’s a reality we better face.”
WCBS-TV: NYC’s Controversial Arabic Academy Opens rotestors Gather On City Hall Steps, Call School A ‘Madrassa’
Opponents of the school held a vocal protest on the steps of City Hall Tuesday. They claim it will be a “madrassa,” or a school to help train Islamic radicals.Even some 9/11 families are opposed to the school.
“The evidence is clear that this school would be a detriment to our national security,” says Desiree Bernstein, who lost her brother-in-law, William Bernstein, in the Sept. 11 attacks. “Are we understanding that we are a nation at war, there is a cultural war and we must preserve our Judeo-Christian heritage?”
Protestors say they have been unable to get the Department of Education to reveal the school’s curriculum or the textbooks it will use, which some say will come from Arab countries.
“It is well known that many of the texts emanating from countries like Saudi Arabia are filled with anti-American, anti-Zionist rhetoric,” says Irene Alter, who has been teaching foreign language in the city for 30 years.
Fox 5 News: Arabic-Themed School Opens in Brooklyn
Critics say it will become a training ground for extremists, who subscribe to strong anti-American views. (video of Irene Alter): “Many of the texts emanating from countries such as Saudi Arabia are filled with Anti-American, anti-Zionist rhetoric.”
NY1 News (Times Warner): Controversial Arabic-Language School Opens Amongst Protests
“The mayor and chancellor owe the citizens and taxpayers an explanation for the necessity of a school like this,” said protestor Irene Alter. “And, additionally, [an explanation of] how they plan to monitor it, since it’s well known that many of the texts emanating from countries such as Saudi Arabia are filled with anti-American, anti-Zionist rhetoric.”
WRCBTV: Arabic School Controversy
The school has drawn fire from critics who claim it could become a breeding ground for Islamic fundamentalists, but defenders say it will provide students much needed Arabic language skills…something that the federal government has identified as a crucial need.Others, including New York City Assemblyman Dov Hikind, disagree.
“When the likes of Arafat or Hezbollah are presented by some of these students as heroes because their parents think they’re heroes, what are you going to tell those children? They think they’re freedom fighters, not terrorists,” Hikind argued.
KWTX: Sparks Fly Over Public School Devoted To Arabic Language, Culture
Sparks flew Tuesday as a public school devoted to teaching Arabic language and culture opened its doors to students in New York City.Critics say the school could become a taxpayer-funded breeding ground for extremists and the president of the Catholic League said Muslims are getting special treatment over other religions.
WNYC New York Public Radio: Controversial Arab Language and Culture Academy Opens
The new Arabic language and culture-focused public school has survived months of opposition – from parents who didn’t want their school buildings to house extra students; from critics who oppose the idea of public schools with a single cultural focus; and from pundits and bloggers who have raised questions about whether the school will violate the separation between religion and state by promoting an Islamic, or even Islamist curriculum.
Associated Press: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gGWCNVzlLI0Ve8f6qeNEymGgXErA
Protests against the school, which have been fervent since it was announced this year, were in another borough — on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan. Opponents have attacked the school as a potential training ground for radicals.
A group of protesters repeated those charges on Tuesday.
Reuters: Arabic school opens in New York amid controversy
Critics gathered later on the steps of City Hall. Groups including the Catholic League and Stop the Madrasa accused authorities of stonewalling about the school’s curriculum.
“At the moment, we have to go on the basis on what we know about the people who have brought us this institution,” said Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, adding that those involved included imams, or Muslim religious leaders.
“The burden of proving that it is not a madrasa” lies with them, he said.
Irene Alter, a Spanish teacher and a founder of Stop the Madrasa, said she feared books donated from Saudi Arabia, and which feature an anti-American or anti-Zionist theme, could become part of the curriculum.
WorldNetDaily: New York Islamic academy faces monitoring
‘We want to know about curriculum, text books, teachers and CAIR’
“The Law Center will continue to use the courts to get information on the school that the city has refused to provide,” spokesman Brian Rooney told a gathering of concerned citizens in New York.”We want to know what the curriculum is, what text books are being used, who the teachers are, and what groups affiliated with the school like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will have access to the children,” he added. “The Law Center will also monitor the school in order to ensure that it comports with state and federal law.
NY Daily News: Arab academy opens without protest
Hours after the school opened, an opposition group, the Stop the Madrassa Coalition, protested at City Hall and announced the formation of a national group designed to “stop the radical Islamist agendas” in public schools.
“We have to be concerned with this type of school on a different level for the simple reason that … while today most Muslims are not terrorists, virtually all terrorists today are Muslim,” said Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, of the Citizens for American Values in Public Education.
NY Sun: Getting the Instruction Right at Khalil Gibran
By Daniel Pipes, September 5, 2007
This troubling pattern points to the need for special scrutiny of publicly funded Arabic-language programs. That scrutiny should take the form of robust supervisory boards whose members are immersed in the threat of radical Islam and who have the power to shut down anything they might find objectionable.
Arabic-language instruction at the pre-collegiate level is needed, and the American government rightly promotes it — for example, via the National Security Language Initiative on the national level or the Foreign Language in Elementary Schools program on a local one. As it does so, getting the instruction right becomes ever more important. Citizens, parents, and taxpayers have the right to ensure that children attending these publicly funded institutions are taught a language skill — and are not being recruited to anti-Zionism or Islamism.
NY Sun: Group Targets Middle Eastern Textbooks
As schools citywide open their doors today, a group critical of a new Arabic-language public school is stepping up its opposition efforts, broadening its campaign to target national school curricula.The group, a coalition of community members, parents, and organizations called Citizens for American Values in Public Education, is seeking to stop the national use of textbooks that address Middle Eastern studies in ways the group says are too narrowly focused on Islamic culture. The coalition is an outgrowth of the group Stop the Madrassa, which has strongly opposed the creation of an Arabic-language school in Brooklyn, the Khalil Gibran International Academy.
“We want to offer textbooks and curricula that actually embrace a larger cultural picture,” a spokeswoman for the group, Pamela Hall, said. “We would like to make sure that there are textbooks offered that are not propaganda, and not offered by just one source.”
One News Now: Christian law firm representing citizens opposed to Islamic school http://www.onenewsnow.com/2007/09/christian_law_firm_representin.php
The Thomas More Law Center believes the Khalil Gibran International Academy is nothing more than a thinly disguised incubator for Islamist radicalization. That is why the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based firm is weighing in on the controversy. Spokesman Brian Rooney says the Brooklyn school is a Trojan Horse that New York City is building with taxpayer money.
New York Post: ODD LESSON ON ‘JIHAD’ AT ARAB ACADEMY
By Andrea Peyser, Sept. 5 2007
As students filed nervously into Brooklyn’s Khalil Gibran International Academy yesterday, a key adviser to the school was defining the meaning of the loaded term jihad.
“Struggle,” Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid, of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem, told me.
Say what? To most New Yorkers, including me, jihad means only one thing – holy war….. Department of Education spokesman David Cantor said Gibran’s advisory board, assembled by ex-principal Debbie “Intifada is Good” Almontaser, was disbanded.
But that was news to Abdur-Rashid. The imam, who has written on the way white Americans “robbed” Africans and Muslims of their heritage, said he was involved “strictly on the importance of the multi-cultural aspect of the school’s curriculum.”
National Catholic Reporter: New Arab academy caught in debate of religious pluralism, war on terror
Yet it has been denounced as a breeding ground for Islamic radicalism by local critics, who have organized a grass-roots coalition called “Stop the Madrassa.” The opposition has attracted the support of national figures such as Daniel Pipes, an influential critic of Islam…Pipes argues that in principle having more Americans learn Arabic is a great idea, but that in practice Arabic-language instruction is rarely neutral, usually nudging students toward pro-Palestinian stances and hostility toward the West and the United States.The case that the Khalil Gibran Academy is dangerous is based largely on its potential associations. Critics say the school will use materials prepared by the Council on Islamic Education, a Saudi-funded group accused of supporting jihadist ideology. The school is located near the Masjid al-Farooq mosque, which had been attended by some of the figures involved in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Others oppose the academy on church/state grounds, arguing that public money should not be used to open a school that seems to favor a particular religion…Catholic reaction has been mixed. The Thomas More Law Center, a nonprofit law firm specializing in religious freedom founded by Domino’s pizza magnate Tom Monaghan, has called the school “a Trojan Horse for radical Islam with taxpayer money.”
News Max: Group: NY Public School Has Radical Islamist Agenda
A new public school in New York slated to teach Arabic language and culture will impose a radical Islamist agenda in its classrooms.”We are paying with our public dollar for a religious school, a madrassa,” Pamela Hall, a member of the “Stop the Madrassa” group told CNN.
“The Arabic immigrant students will be isolated,” Hall told the cable network.
CNS News: NYC Arab School Opens Amid Firestorm
Stop the Madrassa, a group of parents and teachers opposed to the school, called for its immediate closing. They also announced the creation of a new national organization to pressure New York City to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request to provide information to the public regarding the textbooks, curriculum, lesson plans and other material for the school.
Pamela Hall, a member of Stop the Madrassa, considered the rally a major success based upon the media attention it received.
“We are going national with a new group, Citizens Form American Values in Public Education,” Hall told Cybercast News Service. “We have a booklet that we introduced today to be used as a tool for parents and schools across the country to see what is in their children’s textbooks.”
Metro Newspaper: Academy welcomes students as ‘madrassa’ foes hit City Hall
Meanwhile, at City Hall, a grassroots organization, “Stop the Madrassa,” called on city officials to answer three Freedom of Information Law requests concerning textbooks, curricula and other documents related to the school they feel could impose a radical Islamist agenda. Retired city teacher Irene Alter, a co-founder of the group, worried about what reading materials will be distributed to up to 60 students at the school, which will initially offer sixth-grade and is scheduled to add one level a year until grade 12.
“My initial reaction was that this defies all common sense,” Alter said. “At the very least, [Mayor Michael Bloomberg] and [Schools Chancellor Joel Klein] owe the citizens and taxpayers an explanation for the necessity of a school like this, and additionally, how they plan to monitor it since it is well known that many of the texts emanating from countries such as Saudi Arabia are filled with anti-American, anti-Zionist rhetoric.”