National anthem causes religious debate in Australian school


Cranbourne Carlisle Primary School in Australia recently agreed to invite Shiite Muslim students to leave the room during the Australian national anthem in order to observe Muharram, a traditional month of mourning, leaving several confused and outraged.

"I saw red," said Lorraine McCurdy, who has two grandchildren at Cranbourne Carlisle. "You don't walk out on my national anthem."

While many, like McCurdy, are taking the situation personally and associating these children's decision to leave during the anthem with a lack of national pride, board members at the school, as well as Australian political figures, support and hold steadfast to the decision to encourage these students' to feel comfortable practicing their religious beliefs.

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Cheryl Irving, principal of Cranbourne Carlisle, explains that Muharram is a monthlong observance where Shiite Muslims remember the death of Muslim martyr Imam Hussein. This year, Muharram takes place from October 13 to November 12.

"During this time Shiite do not participate in joyful events, including listening to music or singing, as it is a period of mourning," said Irivng.

Kuranda Seyit, secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria (where the school is located), emphasized that the entire situation was a misunderstanding, and that "Muslims take great pride in singing the national anthem."

%shareLinks-quote="People need to remember that these Muslim children are not against the Australian national anthem but are not allowed to be deemed to be celebrating." type="quote" author="Kuranda Seyit" authordesc="Secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria" isquoteoftheday="false"%

As the controversy escalated and gained notoriety, the Australian Department of Education issued a statement in support of the public school.

%shareLinks-quote="The Department supports our schools to be inclusive for all students, this includes understanding or respecting religious cultural observances." type="quote" author="Department of Education" authordesc="" isquoteoftheday="false"%

The statement went on to confirm that as of 2016, new courses including "respectful relationships, world views and ethical understanding" will be instilled within the Australian public school curriculum, "helping to build more inclusive schools and communities"

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Originally published