Alabama’s school board voted 5-2 on Friday to recommended 11 social studies textbooks, effectively dismissing complaints from critics who said the texts favored Islam over other religions.
The vote is only a recommendation since local school districts still get to decide which texts their students will read, Department of Education spokeswoman Erica Pippins said. The board was originally scheduled to vote in December, but then decided to review the texts again after receiving complaints. Members of Act for America and the Eagle Forum of Alabama said the books devoted too much content to explaining Islam and not enough on Christianity and Judaism.
“Why is so much text devoted to Islam?” Larry Houck, the founder of Act for America’s Birmingham chapter, wrote in a letter to the school board. He said the books “proselytize for Islam.”
The president of the Birmingham Islamic Society, Ashfaq Taufique (TAW’-feek), said those objections were unfounded. He said a multi-faith coalition that included Christians had supported recommending the textbooks.
“I feel really good about the progressive nature of this vote,” Taufique said. “A negative vote on this would have sent chills through the communities. Alabama is gaining more international business, more physicians from areas other than Alabama … and therefore rejection of these books based on this content about Islam would have been detrimental to the progress we have made to date.”
Update: See “Birmingham conservative group not giving up fight against alleged pro-Islamic textbooks”, AL.com, 12 January 2014