Sunday, March 27, 2016

Prayer Rugs Come To St. Cloud Public Schools

                 The St. Cloud, Minnesota school system- like those of many cities large and small around the United States- is experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of students from East African and Middle Eastern nations. The central Minnesota city’s burgeoning immigrant community- the majority of whom hail from Somalia- has resulted in the school district experiencing a 350 percent spike in English-language-learner enrollment in the past 15 years. Fully 20% of the district’s 10,000 plus students are now English-language learners.
                The U.S. is now home to the largest number of foreign-born black people in its history, and many are K-12 students enrolled in public schools. 35,000 of these students nationwide report that they speak Somali at home, making it one of the most common native languages for English-learners in public schools, according to federal data for the 2013-2014 school year.
                The St. Cloud school district’s lunch menus offer pork-free options for students. The school district has even partnered with the University of Minnesota to develop special uniforms for female athletes who wear Hijabs, the headscarves worn by many Muslim girls and women. The district’s middle and high schools have also accommodated the Muslim immigrants by providing them with access to private rooms with prayer rugs for their five-times-a-day prayer sessions.
                How can one explain this special treatment, given the fact that open displays of prayer specific to any particular religion is not allowed in U.S. public schools, the Ten Commandments cannot be posted in public places and students in many districts are routinely reprimanded or sent home if they even wear apparel with Christian symbols on them?
                It is obvious which of these is a religion “of peace,” and which is vastly more giving and tolerant.
                It is not as easy to discern which one will prove predominant.


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