Washington Public School District Attempts Ramadan Observances

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by Bruce Walker  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  May 8, 2019   

Embraces rules promulgated by disgraced Islamic group

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SEATTLE (ChurchMilitant.com) - A public school district in the state of Washington is drawing heat from a legal group for promoting Muslim religious practices, especially during the Ramadan season of fasting and prayer.

At issue is a Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) document adopted as a de facto school policy by the Dieringer Public School District. The policy has been interpreted by the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) as sponsorship of a specific religion in an attempt to "indoctrinate impressionable schoolchildren under the guise of 'diversity' and 'cultural awareness.'"

The FCDF, a Washington-based consortium of trial attorneys defending religious liberties, family values and bioethics, is threatening to sue the district after learning of the letter from a teacher and the parent of one of the district's students.

A school district would never order teachers to 'welcome' Catholic students during Easter with 'He is risen, alleluia!' Singling out Muslim students for special treatment is blatantly unconstitutional.

CAIR's "Informative Letter on Upcoming Islamic Holidays and Religious Accommodations" contained a list of "recommendations" for recognizing Ramadan in Dieringer schools. Among the recommendations is encouraging teachers to greet Muslim students with the religious salutations "Ramadan Mubarak" or "Ramadan Kareem" throughout the month-long celebration.

"By urging teachers to bless Muslim students in Arabic, the District is running roughshod over the First Amendment's mandate of government neutrality toward religion," wrote FCDF Executive Director Daniel Piedra. "A school district would never order teachers to 'welcome' Catholic students during Easter with 'He is risen, alleluia!' Singling out Muslim students for special treatment is blatantly unconstitutional."

Superintendent Judy Martinson received the recommendations in an email addressed from CAIR. Martinson forwarded the email to school principals in the Dieringer public school system for distribution to respective school teachers and staffs. According to 2018 data, the district's three schools instruct 1,541 students.  

In their correspondence with the school district, FCDF noted the Ramadan concessions exceed First Amendment limitations outlined by the U.S. Constitution:

The policy also likely violates the Free Exercise Clause, because it commands that Ramadan religious concerns automatically control over all other interests at school without taking into account the convenience or interests of non-Muslim students. To be sure, schools navigate a narrow passage between honoring diverse cultures and religious beliefs without offending the fundamental rights of others. Here, the District's accommodation of Muslim students during Ramadan exceeds the critical limitations imposed by the Establishment Clause.

By urging teachers to bless Muslim students in Arabic, the District is running roughshod over the First Amendment's mandate of government neutrality toward religion.

Another concession recommended by CAIR was to request teachers refrain from scheduling tests on the Muslim holy days Eid al Fitr, the last day of Ramadan, and Eid al Adha, which is celebrated in August. However, FCDF noted, existing state law already requires that students be excused for any "[r]eligious or cultural purpose including observance of a religious or cultural holiday or participation in religious or cultural instruction."


The FCDF missive concludes by detailing CAIR's notoriety for not only pervasive anti-Semitism but also the organization's stated U.S. education indoctrination agenda and identification with and funding of a network of terrorist organizations:

  • Federal prosecutors have acknowledged that Muslim Brotherhood leaders founded CAIR and that it has conspired with Muslim Brotherhood affiliates to support terrorists.
  • In 2007, federal prosecutors named CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator with the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and five of its leaders for materially supporting Hamas.
  • In 2008, the FBI ended formal contact with CAIR because of its ties to terrorism.
  • In 2014, the United Arab Emirates, as part of a federal law to combat extremism, designated CAIR as a terrorist organization.  

"The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund will closely monitor the District's response to this letter," wrote Piedra. "Note, legal proceedings may be initiated if the District does not take steps to rescind the Ramadan Policy within a reasonable time."

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