The Islamic Post Blog


Student Religious Rights Violated? by ipinfo2
December 8, 2012, 12:15 am
Filed under: 2009 June Vol. 1, Politics

June Vol. 1, 2009

By Jameelah A. Aziz

The Constitution of the United States was developed by our founding fathers to ensure equality for all, indifferent to race, gender, age or religion. In the first amendment of the US Constitution it states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”. However, in certain instances it seems as if the rights of minors are not always equal to that of adults and therefore can, and have, been suppressed. This phenomena is seen at times within the public school system, where it can be said that students’ constitutional rights are being violated across the country.
This practice has been recently observed in the case of ten year old Adam Awwad, a Muslim student at the Albert Payson Terhune Elementary School in Wayne, NJ, who went through difficulty when looking for a place to perform his prayers which, in Islam, are made five times daily on a fixed, mandatory schedule, including during work or school times. For quite some time, Adam’s mother, Rola Awwad, had been seeking an appropriate environment in school for her son to pray. To accommodate Rola’s request, the Wayne School District offered Adam the time to pray outside at recess or inside the classroom while his classmates were there. Mrs Awwad found this arrangement to be “unacceptable” for her son. She wanted a quiet and clean place for her child to pray. The elementary school showed concern about the safety of Adam if he were to be left alone and unattended.
According to the school’s website, their mission is to “create independent thinkers and social problem solvers who are respectful of themselves and others.”
Muslim advocates were attracted to the situation at the school and made suggestions to the family of bringing their issue to the state for resolution.
Meanwhile, after concerns that other students would make fun of him, Adam took it upon himself to pray during lunchtime in the back of the classroom while the other students played games. Now he is joined by four other Muslim classmates. Mrs Rola Awwad’s seven year old daughter, Amana, also has similar arrangements in her second grade classroom.
According to North Jersey News, Mrs Awwad said the Council on American-Islamic Relations had considered bringing the issue before the state Board of Education. But Awwad said she wants to wait and see if the current arrangement continues to work for her children.
Muslims aren’t the only ones having difficulty exercising their religious rights in school, Christians are as well. In 2007, The Christian Post reported that twelve Christian students were suspended for holding a morning prayer meeting at the cafeteria of Heritage High School in Vancouver, Washington. The suspensions were later retracted. Also in 2007, two students of the College of Alameda in California were threatened with suspension because they were praying on campus with an instructor. Bay Area News reported that Kandy Kyriacou and Ojoma Omaga- were found praying with their ailing teacher. The two students are currently suing Peralta Community College District for violation of their civil rights under the premise that school administration and teachers are not only responsible to educate and provide a safe learning environment, but also must respect student’s individual rights.

 

 

 

 

 

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