Anti-Muslim harassment draws Department of Education probe
The U.S. Department of Education has agreed to launch an investigation into anti-Muslim harassment at schools in St. Cloud and Owatonna, and the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said it welcomed the news.
"Decades after the beginning of the civil rights movement, no student should be constantly subjected to racial slurs or harassment at school," said the group's civil rights director, Taneeza Islam.
Among the complaints: A "I hate the Somalians at Tech High" Facebook page, bacon being shoved in the faces of Muslims as a provocation by students who know Islam forbids the eating on pork, and an inflammatory essay about Somali Muslims posted by a student on an English class blog.
CAIR complained to the DOE based on Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination by recipients of Federal financial assistance.
"Our goal is to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all students," Islam said.
The harassment isn't confined to schools. In January, two county prosecutors declined to file charges against a man they said admitted to posting anti-Musim cartoons near a mosque, a Somali-owned store and other places in and around St. Cloud.
The cartoons depicted the prophet Muhammed having sex with animals. But as vile as that was, Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall and Benton County Attorney Robert Raupp, in separate letters to St. Cloud City Attorney Jan Petersen, said the cartoons represented protected speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution.
The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations condemned the cartoons as hate speech.