February 18th, 2009 16:39 EST
Muslim Students Allowed to Wear Kaffiyehs at Penn.
A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group said today that two Muslim high school students in Pennsylvania will now be allowed to wear kaffiyehs, a checkered scarf worn by many men in the Middle East.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the students at Gateway High School in Monroeville, Penn., were sent home yesterday after refusing to remove their kaffiyehs.
SEE: Gateway H.S. Agrees to Allow Scarves http://www.wpxi.com/news/18737142/detail.html (Video)
SEE ALSO: Gateway Students Allowed to Wear Cultural Scarves http://kdka.com/local/scarves.Muslim.Gateway.2.937874.html (Video)
In a meeting this morning with the parents of one of the students and a representative of CAIR`s Pittsburgh chapter, the school`s principal agreed to allow the kaffiyehs. He reportedly said his initial ban on the scarves was an attempt to diffuse tension " between Jewish and Muslim students. The Muslim students say they suffered verbal abuse after another student at the school published a commentary falsely claiming the scarves are hate " clothing.
Other organizations represented in today`s meeting with school officials included the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh, American Friends Service Committee, Monroeville Interfaith Ministerium, Middle East Peace Forum, Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network, the Thomas Merton Center, Universal Academy, Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, and Episcopal Peace Fellowship.
We thank school officials for recognizing that all students have the right to freedom of expression and that cultural symbols such as kaffiyehs have nothing to do with hate or terrorism, " said CAIR-Pittsburgh Communications Coordinator Zohra Lasania. She also thanked all the other groups that turned out in defense of constitutional rights.
Lasania added that CAIR publishes a booklet, called An Educator`s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices, " designed to help school administrators understand Muslim beliefs and to promote a positive learning environment.
SEE: An Educator`s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices
SEE: Freedom of Expression
CAIR, America`s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.