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Could Clash Over Whether Fla. Textbooks Have ‘Islam-Bias’ Lead To Legislation?


A dispute over whether certain Florida schools should ditch their history textbooks could become a larger statewide issue. Critics say certain textbooks are biased towards Islam at the expense of other religions, and they hope to remove what they call “Islam-bias” textbooks from Florida schools.

A group called Citizens for National Security wants to have more input over some history books used by Florida schoolchildren.  President William Saxton says he’d like to remove what he calls “Islam bias” in history texts.

Saxton says some books, such as Prentice Hall’s “World History,” is "flawed" and give Islam too much ink. He and Republican Representative Ritch Workman of Melbourne recently brought the issue before the Brevard County School Board, urging them to remove the textbook from its schools. Workman called the world history book “remarkably offensive,” and Saxton agrees.

“Like for example, on page 120, the books says ‘another duty is jihad, or struggle in God’s service. Jihad is usually a personal duty for Muslims who focus on overcoming morality within themselves. At other times, Jihad may be interpreted as holy war to defend Islam in the Muslim community much like the crusades to defend Christianity,'” said Saxton, quoting an excerpt of the history book.

And, Saxton says that’s an inaccurate statement.

“So, this quote suggests that jihad may be declared for the defense of Islam and it tends to give that use of credibility by equating it to what Christians have done in the past. All too often, however, jihad is declared from aggressive warfare. The 9-11 attacks were an example of jihad as terrorism, not self-defense,” he added.

A subset of the Brevard County School Board agreed to review the textbook. In the meantime, the Florida Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, has requested the school board send them a copy of the textbook to review. Spokeswoman Ghazala Salam says her group wants to find out why it’s being opposed.

“From what I can see in what’s posted online, it just looks like a basic chapter, which is a World History book. So, therefore, they’re addressing the history and civilization of Islam and the Muslim people, and that doesn’t seem to be an issue. But, we would have to look at the detailed chapter and read the whole chapter in its entirety to understand the contents of the book," said Salam.

Citizens for National Security’s Saxton says he’d backlegislation, allowing the public to have input in school children's textbooks, as it did in the past. He says that would help in getting what he calls the “Islam-biased” texts out of Florida classrooms. Meanwhile, Salam says her group, CAIR, is likely to fight legislation banning textbooks members do not find to be biased toward Muslims and their faith.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on twitter @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.