Letter to The Brooklyn Paper from CISKGIA member

August 25, 2007

To the editor,

It is truly deplorable that the Department of Education has forced out Debbie Almontaser from the Gibran Academy, a project she helped to initiate. Sadly, Debbie was smeared in the media and hounded from her job because she defined the meaning of “intifada” accurately as “throwing off oppression,” while also clearly indicating that she opposes violence. Apparently that is not good enough for the powers that be here in New York City.

Almontaser’s statement was hardly incorrect — defining the Arabic meaning of “intifada” is what educators do. Moreover, Debbie was clear in her condemnation of violence. The city has completely failed in objectivity in this matter. Instead, schools Chancellor Joel Klein blamed the victim, who is clearly Almontaser.

The extreme right has consistently attacked the Gibran Academy. By giving in to such negative forces, the city has taught a terrible lesson to the students and families.

As a colleague active with Debbie in interfaith dialogue, I know I am not alone in currently reassessing the merits of dialogue and civic engagement. Debbie is very well known for her interfaith work on the grassroots level in Brooklyn.

If New York is remain an open, tolerant and vital city, we cannot allow leaders to be harassed and hounded. You will find yourself with a deeply alienated generation of Arabs and Muslims, a dangerous situation not easily remedied.

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Adem Carroll, The Bronx

The writer is head of the Muslim Consultative Network

Source: The Brooklyn Paper 

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