A federal court is moving ahead with a lawsuit against a New Jersey School District accused of indoctrinating children with Islamic teachings.
District Court Judge Kevin McNulty denied a motion by the Chatham, New Jersey School District to dismiss a claim brought by Libby Hilsenrath. Hilsenrath says her son was forced to watch videos in his middle school World Cultures and Geography class that were meant to convert the students to Islam.
Kate Oliveri from the Thomas Moore Law Center applauded the judge's decision to move forward with the case.
"This ruling comes as no surprise. The motion to dismiss was a further attempt by the school district to bully and silence Mrs. Hilsenrath. The school district ignored the legal standard and ignored the facts, attempting instead to fool the judge with a poor attempt at sophistry," she said.
Hilsenrath says her son and his classmates were shown videos that went beyond informing the students about Islam, but actually called for conversions to the faith.
One of the videos praises the Qur'an as the "perfect guide for humanity," celebrates Allah as the one true god, and claims Mohammad was the last prophet of God. The video ends with a call to action that says, "may God help us all find the true faith, Islam."
A musical version of the Arabic poem "Qaseedah Burdah" plays in the background, and describes Jews and Christians as infidels.
"(The Muslims made their) white shining swords red with the blood of infidels," the poem says when translated to English. "He (Mohammed) kept on encountering with them (infidels) in every battle until they looked like meat put on butcher's bench.)
Hilsenrath believes the curriculum is clear violations of the Establishment clause.
"Due to the fact that these doctrinal messages calling for conversion to Islam were included in video format with vivid images and text, they possess greater communicative impact and are more likely to be accepted by the students viewing them than information that is spoken in a classroom or even written in a book," Hilsenrath argues in her suit. "The videos also do not contain any form of disclaimer from Defendants indicating that they do not represent their views or opinions."
From the beginning, the school board has denied Hilsenrath's accusations.
"The Board has no comment on the pending litigation other than to state that it denies the allegations contained in the complaint and will vigorously defend the district, its Board of Education and staff from the allegations contained therein," Chatham Board of Education Attorney Matthew J. Giacobbe said in a written statement.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel for Thomas More said the school district would never teach Christianity or Judaism the same way Islam was taught in the classroom.
"What would people say if our public schools taught Christianity as the true faith?" said Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel for Thomas More, in a statement on the law center's website. "Chatham Middle School made a mockery of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause."