In late-August, a class of seventh graders were given a project about class uniforms. Their teacher, who refuses to be named, handed out reading material that he or she thought was relevant: an excerpt from a letter entitled “My Name is Ahlima.”
The letter is about the differences between cultures and dressing. If it stopped there, there may not have been need for concern. However, the letter then talks about polygamy, Sharia Law, women not being allowed to drive, and "immodest" Westerners.
One excerpt reads:
“My name is Ahlima and I live in Saudi Arabia… Perhaps two differences Westerners would notice are that women here do not drive cars and they wear abuyah. An abuyah is a loose-fitting black cloth that covers a woman from head to toe. I like wearing the abuyah since it is very comfortable, and I am protected from blowing sand… I have seen pictures of women in the West and find their dress to be horribly immodest… Women in the West do not have the protection of the Sharia as we do here. If our marriage has problems, my husband can take another wife rather than divorce me, and I would still be cared for… I feel very fortunate that we have the Sharia.”Understandably, Hal Medlin, a parent of one of the children in the class, was upset. After filing a complaint, he stated, “I thought this was absurd... [The teacher] was trying to compare Islamic rules of dress and how they compared to school uniforms, which I thought was a stretch. The principal and the [superintendent] agreed with me... but they wouldn’t agree with my premise that it put Islam in a positive light because of the [statements].”
“This particular sequence is a two-day social studies lesson. They read this letter and then examine stereotyping. The next lesson is a compare and contrast on the role of women in the Middle East. Yes, the Muslim girl stereotypes Western women, but are there ways we stereotype Muslims? I have no idea what the objection is."The reading material has since been "adjusted."