Hostility at Missouri PTA Meeting Distresses Muslim Speaker and Students

February 17, 2002

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

On February 17, 2002, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that "Sheila Musaji and a group of parents in the Pattonville School District planned an evening to promote understanding of the Islamic faith. And they expected to find a sympathetic audience in the Pattonville PTA... But the evening took a hostile turn when some people who don't routinely attend PTA sessions showed up. One called Islam a violent religion and suggested Musaji was lying about her faith... Musaji is a longtime parent and volunteer in the district. And she has spoken about Islam before various groups for years. Even so, she said she was shaken by what happened at the PTA meeting... Particularly disturbing to Musaji and other parents were hostile questions and palm-size booklets distributed at the end of the meeting. The booklets show comic-strip drawings of a Muslim threatening to kill a Christian. In the end, the Christian converts the Muslim to Christianity... Word spread about the incident. Several Christians and Jews in Musaji's Interfaith Dialogue Group were angry at the treatment she received... Irene Goldman said: 'I'm Jewish. We are very sensitive to this situation and feel a responsibility (to speak out) when something like this happens'... School counselors apologized to the students who attended the meeting. Sophomore Jamil Hajahmad took time off from his after-school job to be there. He has always been treated well at the high school, so he was surprised by the reaction."