The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools’ director took an “alarmingly intolerant and hostile attitude toward Islam and Muslims,” the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations said this week in demanding an apology.
Dar-Ul-Arqam, an Islamic school which enrolls more than 300 students at three Houston area locations under the supervision of the Islamic Education Institute of Texas, sought membership for its Adel Road campus in TAPPS, the Texas-based association.
TAPPS Director Edd Burleson, in the letter, wrote that most of the group’s schools are Christian and quoted a verse from the Quran urging Muslims to be violent toward Christians and Jews.
“Why do you wish to join an organization whose membership is basically in total disagreement with your religious beliefs?” Burleson asked in the two-page letter, which included 10 questions.
Burleson suggested that some TAPPS members may be intolerant of Muslims and questioned the school’s attitude toward the spread of Islam in America.
“Why do you think that the current member schools of TAPPS will not be biased against your school, based on the fundamental difference in your religion and Christianity, since about 90 percent of TAPPS schools embrace Christianity?” he asked.
Charles Price, the chairman of the TAPPS board, declined to comment and the organization did not return a telephone call to The Associated Press early Thursday. The association includes 238 schools statewide, but its bylaws do not indicate that the organization is open only to Christian schools.
“The TAPPS letter, a symbol of religious intolerance, has no place in a nation that was originally built by those seeking asylum from such intolerance,” Iesa Galloway, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Houston office, wrote this week to the TAPPS board.
Galloway’s group, besides demanding an apology, has asked for reprimands against those responsible for the letter. Galloway said Burleson sent a similar letter to an Islamic school in the Dallas area.
More than 170 students are enrolled at Dar-Ul-Arqam’s Adel Road campus, which participates in the Grapevine-based Private School Interscholastic Association, said school representative Khaled Katbi. Because that association’s programs are only available through middle school, Dar-Ul-Arqam representatives sought another group offering scholastic competition for its 19 high school students.
When Katbi appeared before the TAPPS board on Nov. 4 to seek membership for his school, board members asked him if the school taught from the Quran. Katbi said it did.
“Their questions were reasonable,” he said. “I did not sense hostility.”
But the letter prompted the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas to urge an investigation, said Alamdar Hamdani, a Houston member of the ACLU board.
“It’s the venom in that letter that’s so disturbing,” Hamdani said.
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, D.C., said the letter reflects “the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment” that has emerged since the 2001 terrorist attacks.