CAIRO - An uproar has raged in the southern US state of Texas after school students were asked to wear burqa (face-veil) to help change their perceptions about Muslims and their faith.
"As parents we should have been made aware this and I felt like the line had been crossed," a parent of a 14-year-old student at Lumberton High School told Fox News."Christian kids who want to pray have to do it outside of school hours -- yet Islam is being taught to our kids during school hours."
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Female students at the school were asked to wear burqa as part of a class on world geography. The general topic of the class at that day was Islam.
"They were asked about their perception of Islam," said a US mother, who saw a photo of her burqa-clad daughter posted on Facebook.
"Most of the class said they thought about terrorism. And her response was, 'we're going to change the way we perceive Islam.'"
The class material was part of an educational curriculum support system (CSCOPE) used in nineteen out of twenty education regions in Texas.
Texas Senator Dan Patrick called for an investigation into the incident.
"Parents are very sensitive to any issue that seems to be anti-American -- that blames democracy for some sort of trouble in the world," said Patrick, chairman of the Senate education committee.
The United States is home to an estimated Muslim minority of seven to eight million.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations.
While hijab is an obligatory code of dress for Muslim women, the majority of Muslim scholars agree that a woman is not obliged to wear the face veil (burqa or niqab).
Scholars believe it is up to women to decide whether to take on the face-veil.
School officials defended the practice as helping promote a better understanding of world cultures and faiths.
"The lesson that was offered focused on exposing students to world cultures, religions, customs and belief systems," the Lumberton Independent School District said in a statement cited by Fox News.
"The lesson is not teaching a specific religion, and the students volunteered to wear the clothing."
The school district said Judaism and Christianity were also part of the lesson.
The district stressed that the photograph of the burqa-clad student does not reflect the entire aspect of the lesson.
"The lesson encompassed diversity education so students receive a firm understanding of our world and why people are motivated differently," it said.
Since the 9/11 attacks on the United States, US Muslims have complained of facing discrimination and stereotypes in the society because of their Islamic attires or identities.
An April 2011 forum, sponsored by the New Jersey chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, warned of a growing violence by bullies against Arab, Muslim and South Asian students.
A recent report by CAIR, the University of California and Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender found that Islamophobia in the US is on the rise.
A US survey had also revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.A recent Gallup poll had found that 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least a little prejudice against Muslims.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net