SPARTA — “Not in our schools.”
That was the resounding message from more than 300 concerned citizens last night who attended a town hall meeting in White County in reference to a seventh grade social studies book that, they say, promotes the Islamic faith.
The book in question is Pearson’s “My World History and Geography: The Middle Ages to the Exploration of the Americas,” and it is one of several seventh grade social studies textbooks that reportedly have been approved by the Tennessee Department of Education.
The concerned citizens — who’ve collectively formed the Citizens Against Islamic Indoctrination group — want it out of the schools, are petitioning for the removal of the entire White County School Board who approved the curriculum and are being legally represented by the law office of James R. Omer as they attempt to file suit against the White County Board of Education.
It was a packed house at the Christian Life Assembly church on North Spring Street in Sparta last night, featuring a presentation by Usama Dakdok, an Egyptian-born Christian who immigrated to the U.S. several years ago, and an introduction from Nashville media personality Steve Gill.
During his introduction of Dakdok, Gill asked the audience, “Why do you think Islam is coming to the Bible belt? Because if they can win here, they know the rest of the way will be easy. But the right people doing the right thing will prevail.”
Dakdok told the audience, who responded with enthusiastic applause, “This book is a work of fiction. It’s stupid and ridiculous, and the White County School Board calls it factual and non-biased? The entire book is a joke.”
He offered a side-by-side comparison of statements made in the textbook with verses of the Qur’an that presented contrasting pictures of Islam, and he described the textbook presentation of the religion as “Islamic propaganda.”
Dakdok points out that the textbook refers to the Islamic god Allah simply as God, leading readers to believe it is the same supreme being referred to in Judaism and Christianity.
“But God is not Allah, and Allah is not God,” Dakdok said, referencing a verse of the Qur’an that refers to Allah as the “best deceiver” and one who “leads people astray.”
Dakdok told the audience that those phrases do not describe God, but Satan.
In a presentation that spanned more than two hours, he offered interpretation of other Qur’an verses that condoned lying, prostitution, spousal abuse and the sexual abuse of children, as well as the execution of infidels.
“This is not a loving and peaceful religion, as this textbook would have us believe,” he said.
One of the teachings of the textbook concerns five pilars of Islam, but Dakdok told the audience there are actually seven.
“The sixth is Al Daawah, which is the sharing of Islam with others and which is exactly what this textbook is doing. And the seventh is Al Jihad, the fighting for Allah. Approximately 80 percent of Islamic immigrants to this country are young men in their 20s. How stupid are we?” Dakdok demanded incredulously.
Near the end of his presentation, he provided an example of Islamic indoctrination from the textbook in the form of a question that referred to a verse of the Qur’an and describes the book as “without flaws,” a statement all of the Christian audience found exceedingly insulting and to which it responded with hisses and boos.
Also represented at the meeting was Tennessee Pastors Network and its president and CEO Dale Walker.
He, as well as parents and organizers of the citizens action group, said they preferred their children’s religious instruction to be presented in homes and churches, not in public schools, especially when they say the cultural influence of other world religions, including Christianity, is virtually omitted from the textbook.
Attempts by the Herald-Citizen to contact White County Director of Schools Sandra Crouch were unsuccessful as of press time, and no other school board representative could be reached in reference to the issue.
Representatives, however, have previously defended their decision to use the textbook, reportedly saying that teachers focus on teaching Islam only in preparation for information included on standardized tests.
Although Putnam County’s school system does not use the textbook, organizers at last night’s meeting said that a similar townhall meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 4, at Algood’s Trinity Assembly.