After a parent complained about a class assignment in which seventh-grade students were directed to draw a picture of Muhammad, which is forbidden in Islam — a California school district has banned the depiction of any religious leaders.
The assignment was a part of a history class worksheet at High Desert School in Acton called “Vocabulary Pictures: The Rise of Islam,” in which students were given words such as, ”Quran, Mecca, Bedouins and Muhammad,” and were directed to draw a picture depicting each word, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
After receiving the complaint and media inquiries, the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District issued a statement to the Daily News.
“I have directed all staff to permanently suspend the practice of drawing or depiction of any religious leader,” district Superintendent Brent Woodard told the Daily News in a text message. “I am certain this teacher did not intend to offend anyone and, in fact, was simply teaching respect and tolerance for all cultures.”
The complaint was first raised by Melinda Van Stone, who said that she was “very upset” when her son, who is 12, brought the assignment home last month.
“It’s not appropriate to have our children go to school and learn how to insult a religious group,” Van Stone said.
Van Stone was the only parent to have complained, according to the Daily News.
In Islam, depictions of any religious leader, whether it’s Muhammad, Moses or Jesus, are strictly forbidden.
“Muslims do not draw the image of the Prophet Muhammad out of respect for him,” Muzammil Siddiqi, an Islamic scholar and chairman of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California said.
Educators “should be sensitive to this Muslim position that young Muslim students would be reluctant to do it. … If the teacher doesn’t ask anyone to do that, it would be better.”
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