Virginia county board shuts down schools over Arabic lesson

Marcus Gilmer
Arabic Calligraphy Lesson Causes Virginia School To Close
Arabic Calligraphy Lesson Causes Virginia School To Close

The uproar over an Arabic assignment at a Virginia school has grown to the point where school district officials have canceled Friday classes for all schools under their authority.

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The controversy began earlier this week at Riverheads High School in Staunton, Virginia over a World Geography class assignment in which students copied a piece of Arabic text as part of a calligraphy lesson. But when students discovered that the phrase they copied was the Shahada, meaning, "There is no other God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger," they pushed back.

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Now, the furor over the lesson has reached such a fever pitch that the Augusta County School Board has canceled classes, saying in a statement that, while there have been no threats, the complaints have increased and "based on concerns regarding the tone and content of those communications," the board has chosen to close schools on Friday.

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One parent told WVIR, "These children were deceived when they were told it was calligraphy, this is not calligraphy, this is a language."

In a statement, the school board defended the assignment, saying, "Neither these lessons, nor any other lesson in the world geography course, are an attempt at indoctrination to Islam or any other religion, or a request for students to renounce their own faith or profess any belief."

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