Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I’ll Wear the Shorts

This just isn’t right. I don’t know if “Gym Attire Seen as Latest Attempt to Force Shari'a in US” is necessarily an attempt to force the United States to accept Shari’a law or not. I am not going to “debate” that aspect of the article. I am angry about the complete lack of any attempt whatsoever made for assimilation or integration of different cultures, Muslim and Islamic or any other culture and/or ethnic group, in the United States. Efforts to do so by any number of minorities appear to be totally, thoroughly null and void. Conversely, if an American makes a decision to move to another country, with the exception of some European countries, assimilation into that country’s culture is not only anticipated but expected and in some instances required.

In the country I currently reside, yes, certainly, by choice – well sort of – I am required to not only respect the culture and customs but to adopt many of the same norms and traditions that are an integral element of the lifestyle. Doing so is not an option. I do not get to make the decision based on what would be normal and customary ways of life for Americans in the United States. It is implicit that the code and manner of how one must conduct oneself will be governed by The Sandbox’s long-established beliefs and principles.

Why isn’t this something, then, that the United States requires? Apparently “assimilation” is one-sided. And that is my argument. I cannot wear
shorts, here, just to run and do a quick errand on the compound where we live without being scolded by Security. However, Americans in the United States are expected to bend over backwards to accommodate the wants of every other culture in the world regardless of the fact that other countries offer absolutely no compromise to Americans or others who may be guests.

What irks me even more is that, per the article, local middle and high schools are going to have their policies reviewed to make sure they are accommodating the religious needs of Muslim students during Ramadan and Eid and throughout the school year. No. Whoa. Hold up, right there! This needs to be further explained. There are laws that separate church from state and state, here, being PUBLIC schools.

What, exactly, is this going to entail? That a Muslim student, celebrating Ramadan, gets to start classes two hours later than everyone else because he or she has been up late partaking in festivities associated with this month-long holiday? Does this student get to take the month off from school? Do classes get stopped at certain times so that a Muslim student can pray? Are certain, special foods going to be served in the cafeteria?

If one particular religion is going to be acknowledged, contrary to laws already on the books, then ALL religions are going to have to be acknowledged. Thus, by making sure PUBLIC schools are accommodating students who happen to be practicing Islam the door isn’t just going to have to be opened – it is going to have to be taken off the hinges! No? Sure it will. Once you have accommodated the religious beliefs of one faith in the PUBLIC school system, all PUBLIC schools will have to open their doors for students practicing Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism, Taoism, Scientology and Wicca – and every practicing faith in the world! What is outrageous about this is the fact that only one will be excluded. Yep. Only one… Christianity. You just watch and see…


  1. Sabra -- I am really right with you on a lot of things re the Magic Kingdom, but I am going to have to differ with you on this one. In NYC, where I live, all public schools close for major Jewish holidays (yom kippur and passover) as well as the Christian holiday (a whole week) of Christmas. Last year Eid was added to the list of holidays due to the large number of Muslims who live in this city. I would rather do that, than force Christian kids to go to school on Christmas.

    I live up the street from a huge magnet high school (Brooklyn Tech) who hold a lot of their gym classes in the park across the street from wear I live, and I frequently see Muslim girls fully participating in those class with some form of hijab (loose sweat pants and headscarf). Their clothing choice does not seem to interfer in their ability to participate in all gym activities.

    And btw -- I am sure that since the school is so big and so far away from home, if they did not want to wear hijab, they could easily ditch the head scarf as soon as they get to school -- as I am sure that many girls do who come from conservative families (I have actually seen girls on the subway either removing or donning a head scarf) -- so, I am assuming that those who wear it in gym class, do so because they want to. And why shouldn't they be allowed? What harm does it do to anyone?

    If we, as Americans, refuse to be reasonably accomodating, then we are no different than the Saudi's you so rightly critisize. Allowing some girls to honor their religious choice ensures that all of us have the right to our religious choices, which also includes the choice to not be religious.

  2. Sunrunner - The law says that gym attire which is NOT appropriate to a person's religious convictions does not have to be worn. Thus, this issue was resolved for this young lady before anyone even needing to step in and intervene on her behalf. The school was very wrong in threatening her with failing a class. I don't have a problem with that...

    On the other hand, the ACLU has gone overboard regarding Christian holidays - it is not Christmas holiday anymore - it is winter break; schools may not sing songs during that holiday period where the word "Christmas" is used; or any other religious connotation. Music classes have actually changed the words to songs in order to make them appropriate this way. Do a Google search to see what Christian religion is currently being taught in the public school system. A young woman recently was told she couldn't read her Bible during lunchtime! Lawsuit pending:

    But just a couple days ago the Supreme Court rejected an appeal "The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday by evangelical Christian students and their parents who said a Contra Costa County school district engaged in unconstitutional religious indoctrination when it taught students about Islam by having them recite language from prayers.

    The court, without comment, left intact a ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco last November in favor of the Byron Union School District in eastern Contra Costa.

    The suit challenged the content of a seventh-grade history course at Excelsior Middle School in Byron in the fall of 2001. The teacher, using an instructional guide, told students they would adopt roles as Muslims for three weeks to help them learn what Muslims believe.

    She encouraged them to use Muslim names, recited prayers in class, had them memorize and recite a passage from the Quran and made them give up something for a day, such as television or candy, to simulate fasting during the month of Ramadan. The final exam asked students for a critique of elements of Muslim culture.

    The students and parents who sued argued that the class activities had crossed the line from education into an official endorsement of a religious practice. A federal judge and the appeals court disagreed, saying the class had an instructional purpose and the students had engaged in no actual religious exercises." Huh?!? The site is here:

    I see this as a gross double standard and that is part of my issue. It is either ALL or nothing.

    And finally, yes, you are indeed right that if I were to insist that "we" [American's in the U.S.] insisted on doing everything our way we would in fact be no different than "them" [any other country that insists on conforming - or else]. Point made. [But I'd still like to be able to dress in weather-appropriate attire during July when it's 120 degrees here in The Sandbox and I'm forced to wear a long black sack if I want to leave my home!]


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