A primary school in Australia is under fire after allowing Muslim children to walk out of assembly as the national anthem was sung.
The Cranbourne Carlisle Primary School in Victoria, which promotes the motto “Many Cultures, One Community,” said a religious month of mourning was the politically correct reason Islamic students were allowed to leave the room while the rest of the student body stood for the anthem, according to News.com.au.
“Two children got up and said `welcome to our assembly.’ With that a teacher came forward and said that all those who feel it’s against their culture may leave the room,” said Lorraine McCurdy, who has two grandchildren at the school.
According to witnesses, about 30 or 40 children then got up and left.
“I saw red, I’m Australian and I felt ‘you don’t walk out on my national anthem,’” she said.
Principal Cheryl Irving argued that the decision to allow Muslim students the right to “opt-out” of the anthem was made out of respect for a Shiite month of mourning, which prohibits Muslims from taking part in “joyous events.”
“Muharram is a Shi’a cultural observation marking the death of Imam Hussein,” Ms Irving said.
But not everyone believes the accommodation was appropriate, saying respect for Australia’s national anthem shouldn’t be considered a violation of anyone’s religious beliefs.
“I find that absolutely devastating, we should all be singing the Australian national anthem and we should be doing that with pride,” Independent Senator for Tasmania, Jacqui Lambie, said. “That’s part of us.”
Even Kuranda Seyit, secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria, seemed to think the school could have handled students’ religious needs with a little more sensitivity for Australia’s anthem.
“For young children I think things like these should be assessed on their merits and a balance found,” he said, adding that “maybe there could be a bit more flexibility,” on both sides.
The school district, however, fully supports the school’s decision to allow students to opt-out of the anthem.
“The Department supports our schools to be inclusive for all students, this includes understanding or respecting religious cultural observances,” it said in a statement.
Right. Apparently “inclusivity” is terribly important to the school and the district… just so long as Muslims have the freedom to “opt-out.”