- The Washington Times - Monday, November 9, 2015

A California school district has banned the drawing of religious leaders after middle school students were instructed to depict Muhammad, which is forbidden in Islam.

Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District Superintendent Brent Woodard announced the decision Wednesday after consulting with an expert on Islam to determine whether an assignment given to a 7th-grade history class at High Desert School was offensive, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

The vocabulary assignment reportedly listed words such as Quran, Mecca, Bedouins and Muhammad with spaces for students to draw pictures related to those words. High Desert School Principal Lynn David said the worksheet was not part of a textbook, but came from supplemental material.

Parent Melinda Van Stone said she was “very upset” when her 12-year-old son brought the assignment home, the Daily News reported.

“It’s not appropriate to have our children go to school and learn how to insult a religious group,” said Ms. Van Stone, who declined to reveal her or her son’s religion.

The superintendent said he directed all staff to permanently suspend the practice of drawing or depiction of any religious leader.

“I am certain this teacher did not intend to offend anyone and in fact was simply teaching respect and tolerance for all cultures,” Mr. Woodard told the Daily News.

School District President Ed Porter said there should be more sensitivity.

“I think it’s something that should be caught in advance,” he said.

In Islam, depictions of prophets are forbidden, said Muzammil Siddiqi, an Islamic scholar and chairman of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, the Daily News reported.

“Muslims do not draw the image of the Prophet Muhammad out of respect for him,” he said. Educators “should be sensitive to this Muslim position that young Muslim students would be reluctant to do it. … If the teacher doesn’t ask anyone to do that, it would be better.”

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