Bias against Islam

By John L. Esposito and Sheila B. Lalwani Religion News Service- Huffington Post, January 6, 2011 (RNS)

In a single vote, the Texas State Board of Education managed to undermine Christian-Muslim relations, hamper religious literacy and impose ignorance on our kids at a time when they need knowledge to live and work in a competitive and integrated world.

Board members–no foreigners to strange and bizarre decisions–voted to scrub textbooks of anything that smacked of a “pro-Islam” or “anti-Christian” bias. Texas textbooks, by their sheer number, end up setting nationwide standards.

The resolution, passed in a 7-6 vote, refers to moments in history when Christianity is portrayed unfavorably and Islamic events that could be deemed unfavorable are “glossed over.” The vote endangers relations between Christians and Muslims at a time when Islamophobia is becoming a worrying phenomenon across America.

Statistics from the Pew Center on Religion & Public Life find that 38 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Islam, compared to 30 percent who reported a positive view. Another study conducted by The Washington Post found Islam’s unfavorable image creeping up to 49 percent among Americans.

Here at home, U.S. Muslims have expressed concern and fear over recent developments of burned Qurans and strident opposition to building mosques. Muslims overseas, meanwhile, shake their heads in dismay over the future of Islam and Muslims in America.

The actions of the Texas educators do nothing to change and alter opinions of the U.S. abroad; if anything, they probably make things worse.

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