Growing Accommodations for Muslim Students in Public Schools

September 3, 2005

Source: The New York Times

Wire Service: AP

On September 3, 2005 the Associated Press reported, "Yasmeen Elsamra had a simple request: while her classmates were eating lunch, she wanted to go off by herself for a few moments to pray. The 14-year-old was told she couldn't, and went home distraught that afternoon in October 2003. Praying five times a day is a cornerstone of her Muslim faith. 'If I wasn't allowed to pray my second prayer at school, I couldn't do it at home,' she said. 'When school finishes, the third prayer begins.' Her family contacted a Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which asked the school district to reconsider. Eventually, the district acknowledged it had no policy preventing a student from praying on his or her own during free time, and allowed Yasmeen to use an empty classroom to unfurl her prayer rug, face Mecca and touch her head to the floor in a few moments of worship. Her case was part of a nationwide grassroots effort by Muslim parents to make public schools more friendly and accommodating to Muslim students. The movement has gained strength since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks."