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Pennsylvania: Muslim author cancels school visit after parents threaten protest

23 December 2011 General 69 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
Lisa Abdelsalam

Lisa Abdelsalam

By Freda R. Savana Staff Writer for Phily Burbs

Lisa Abdelsalam said she feels “like she swallowed poison” in the days since the threat of parental protests caused the Muslim mother and author to cancel a talk with students at A.M. Kulp Elementary School in Hatfield.

“I have a such a sick feeling in my stomach,” said Abdelsalam, 48, who lives in Colmar with her husband and children, all of whom were or are North Penn students.

Born in Lansdale, the 1981 North Penn High School graduate converted to Islam at 19, when she married her husband, who is from Egypt.

As she has many times at many North Penn schools, she was scheduled to meet with several Kulp classes over four days earlier this month to discuss how she wrote and published her book, “A Song for Me, A Muslim Holiday Story,” based on her son Yoseph’s experiences at York Avenue Elementary in the 1990s.

“A Song for Me, A Muslim Holiday Story,” has illustrations based on pictures of the York Avenue school and details a Muslim boy’s efforts to fit into the holiday spirit at Christmastime.

A few days before her appearance at Kulp was to take place, Principal Erik Huebner called her.

The principal, according to Abdelsalam, told her a few parents had complained about the program and threatened to bring in an outside group to protest if the classes went forward.

“They did not want a Muslim or a Muslim book read in their classrooms,” she was told. Huebner could not be reached for comment.

Abdelsalam, a longtime volunteer at Kulp where she previously served as president of the Home and School Association, and a current member of the district’s diversity committee, was taken aback. “I was serving pizza with these people last year,” she said.

Huebner was supportive, said the author, and said she was welcome to come regardless of the protests. However, both she and the principal decided it was best to cancel, for the sake of the young students.

“I didn’t feel it would be right; it wasn’t one day, it was four days over two weeks,” she explained. “It’s not a battle that should be fought in an elementary school parking lot.”

Christine Liberaski, a spokeswoman for the North Penn School District, said she hopes the program can be rescheduled in the spring.

“I can’t speak to why some people objected,” said Liberaski, who noted that Abdelsalam previously received praise for her book and her presentation on publishing.

The idea for the book came when a music teacher approached Abdelsalam years ago when Yoseph, now 21, was in elementary school. She was asked if she could find a Muslim holiday song for the school’s annual concert. Finding none, she wrote one herself and also wrote the story. She now has two CDs of music she sells online with her book.

“It’s about inclusivity and the child being happy he’s in a school where everyone is accepted,” said Abdelsalam. “I don’t go and talk about religion.”

Original post: Pennsylvania: Muslim author cancels school visit after parents threaten protest

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69 Comments »

  1. Reverse the faiths and locate the story in a muslim country and see what you get.

  2. Goddammit, this is fucking ridiculous.

  3. WTF?

  4. Screw that.Show the children what they’re being brought up to believe- the hate and audacity of this generation, all of its prejudices, the pure and evil ignorance that is driving this society straight down in to hell. Let them see the world their parents are creating, and give them a fighting chance to know what kind of world they’d rather have. Kids aren’t stupid. That’s why the Right uses them- “Family Values” they call it. No compassionate person will enter a battle where kids might see something nasty, and so they get to grow up being sheltered by their parents and led to believe that Jews/Blacks/Muslims are evil creatures seeking to destroy and defile their homeland.

    They should have gone through with it. Screw the reactionaries.

  5. Please tell me your kidding?

  6. This is really, really, really fucking sick. Few things boil my blood like this shit does.

  7. It’s so awesome that America has gone back to the days of extreme racism. It really makes me proud to be an American. It also makes me want to stab myself in the heart with an icepick. there are days when i feel like i can’t wait to be dead….maybe we, as a country, has always been this hateful….

  8. …. your kidding, right?

  9. “The principal, according to Abdelsalam, told her a few parents had complained about the program and threatened to bring in an outside group to protest if the classes went forward” So a few bigot racist parents have the support of an outside group? Is this group the Florida Family Association? Hmmm, She must have been planning on discussing something very threatening and dangerous.

  10. Disgusting

  11. I say those racist parents need some schooling in the Constitution. Idiots.

  12. Like equality despite religion? I’ll be damned, america is just as raceist as it was in the late 1700’s!

  13. It’s a shame..that did not let their kids know or being exposed to a different perspective of things…i feel if yhey were sure about their faith they know nothing can shake but since they are not on top of the fact that they are blinded by dogma..fear is taking over…im Muslim and my family gave me and my sibling to know and be exposed to different faith..we have the bible in my home ..the old and new testament..our family friends are diverse as well..Jewish, Christans, non denominational, atheists..and yet I come from a 3d world country so to speak..i’ appalled to see stuff like that happening in a develpped country…but I knew in THe US..some states are still backward..im so fortunate to live in California as something like that would never happen here..

  14. and this is news? Is being muslim the new “in” thing?

  15. @ Rena Schmidt: Yes, discrimination and bigotry are news. They’re things we should all be concerned about.

  16. @rena not sure if I am understanding you but it seems like you are saying ‘why are we talking about Muslims’. If so, because they are a big part of what America is. I am not Christian, not Muslim, not Jewish…but I celebrate all of those religious traditions because at their roots they all believe in devoting oneself to the service and love of others. I want my 9 year old daughters to know about the beautiful diversity that is the U.S. If I wanted to live where only one kind of being was allowed, I would live in a nice Communist country that told me what to believe.

  17. Pennsylvanians should know better. That’s embarassing behavior at best. At worst, it is dangerous, bigoted, and ignorant.

  18. Anon, so why did you decide that you had to make your comment anonymously? Trolling a bit, are we?

  19. america is a communist country veiled by so called democragy.

  20. I am embarrassed and disgusted about this. I live in PA, not far from this school. I thought that school was supposed to educate children and teach them about different cultures, expose them to things so they can learn to think independently. Instead, we see that a few anonymous bigots who are too cowardly to identify themselves, are stopping children from being educated! If I were a parent, I would be very angry! This should not go on in the 21st century in a school in the suburbs of a major city (Philadelphia). DESPICABLE BEHAVIOR.

  21. I’m so ashamed of this grown up who are supposed to be the role model of our future generations.America what have you become.I’m glad it’s not the majority think like this about the Muslims.Shame,shame to those people .

  22. I was born and raised in Pennsylvania, this is sad that parents would protest this, I wonder if the shoe was on the other foot, meaning if their children felt like outsiders..would they want someone to help the other kids to welcome their child?

  23. @ Kimberley Slown and Salman Munir: For God’s sake. I wish people would learn what Communism is before they start talking about it. I can hardly think of a more overused and misused word in any language.

  24. :(

  25. An I would protest. Every one protests us. The bombs that killed our American people should not be talked or teach to

  26. Happy Holidays!

  27. LOL at Cindy clicking “like” on her own post.

  28. Cindy, what do you mean?

  29. Merry Christmas

  30. @ Admin: She’s saying this woman shares in the responsibility for any terrorism committed by Muslims. Apparently in Cindy’s world, all 1.57 billion Muslims on the face of the Earth meet regularly for conferences in which these things are unanimously approved.

  31. I am very sad to say that this was my elementary school and the author in question is the mother of a boy I graduated with and performed in the high school improv troupe with. If it’s any consolation, every North Penn School District student and alum I’ve spoken to is disgusted right now. Mrs. Abdelsalam’s kids were very popular in school and we’re all shocked and embarrassed by the outcry.

  32. Outrageous. This discrimination must end.

  33. Comrade the language u people use on here an you want our kids to be taught filth? Hate violence not to eat pork worship cows an men who walk the earth?? It is my world u idiots are taking up I am native americian my people were here long before it was terrified an bombed by cowards !!!

  34. my husband is from a majority muslim country, and he too is muslim. his best friend was christian, and they loved celebrating holidays from both faith as boys– especially the food. this would not be an issue in his home country at all. from my experiences, when people are confident about their own faith and their child’s religious education, they don’t feel threatened by their child learning about another’s way to worship/celebrate/be in relationship with god.

  35. @ Cindy: I’d be a hell of a lot more frightened of someone like you teaching kids than some innocent random Muslim woman who’s done nothing wrong teaching kids. You’re the one who’s full of hate, not to mention ignorance. And what exactly is wrong with not eating pork, anyway? What do you care if someone else doesn’t eat pork? How does that hurt you? Pork isn’t healthy anyway. Besides, i’d love to see you provide some evidence that this woman was going to force kids to not eat pork.

  36. No, what I am getting at is that a mirror image is developing. So, fix it. Quit plumping up those grapes of wrath before they burst all over the world.

    Let’s have some positive change in the muslim world.

  37. sad – how did Americans become such a small, embarassingly ignorant people?

  38. What are you doing on this page anyway? What’s the point of coming here and posting this crap? Just to troll? Or to try to convert decent people to your vile, bigoted, hate-filled way of thinking? Go post your filth somewhere else.

  39. Just to be clear, in case anyone misunderstands, my above post was to Cindy, not to Pete Baumann.

  40. @Cindy, I admire your courage to speak your opinion, however you, being Native American, need to appreciate diversity and understanding and rise above bigotry. Your people have suffered racism for many years. Yes, we Americans are diverse, coming from many backgrounds, colors, countries, and beliefs. Our Constitution gives us the rights to believe and practice what ever faith we choose. It is wrong to generalize about a certain class of people based upon the wrong-doings of a few who misrepresent the faith or belief system of the whole class. What those people did Sept 11 was very wrong. They do not represent those of us American, either born here or immigrated here, who are Muslim. There were Muslims who died in those terrible hours, innocent victims of a murderous act by religious zealots. That does not make all Muslims religious zealots. So, was it ok if Muslims died?? Your anger is misdirected.

  41. why are the American people so stupid????

  42. Pretty sure Muslims don’t worship cows, Cindy.

  43. How did muslims become such a small, embarassingly ignorant people?

  44. This is where she needs to trust Allah (God)!

  45. Would they rather a Christian Reconstructionist come to talk to them? Would they protest them as well?

  46. Wow the face book link really broke the dike in terms of comments.

  47. Stopping the spread of ignorance and evil at a school is a good thing. This goes for any religion.

  48. America has a history of isolation…

    Many Americans don’t even like stepping outside of their house let alone learn something about a ‘foreign’ subject…

    Teach and learn readers, or you will become exactly like these people.

  49. Cindy, if y’ having difficulty understanding the nature and belief structure of Islam, I would suggest education as a useful solution. It is something that can be started during childhood and therefore reduce misunderstandings between different racial and social groups. T’ remove the basis of that education t’ be replaced only by uneducated assumptions and espousing them as facts will return us t’ the Dark Ages in a couple of generations, although y’ may have a head start on most people. I would have thought that being a Native American you would be aware of the way in which peoples can be demonised as a result of erroneous information or are y’ really running ’round slaughtering babies, raping white women and scalping square jawed American cowboys, getting drunk on “firewater” and escaping from the reservation that the top hatted government have kindly allowed the “savages” t’ live on. IT’S UNEDUCATED RUBBISH and deserves t’ be consigned t’ black hole of oblivion. Open a book, I would suggest something t’ do with history, y’ missing out on so much.

  50. Betrayal always wounds us. My heart goes out to her!

  51. Oh, wake up yourself, Pete James. Sometimes antipathy is based on knowledge and contempt on familiarity with the subject at hand.

  52. Anon you always speak from where the sun does not shine! you bigot idiot! Racist shit face!

  53. wow Criley now you worry about the terms of comments! Double standards!

  54. As a Jew growing up in the late ’50s, I used to run up against the same kind of bigotted fools as these protesting parents – now those same types love Jews so much, they don’t mind the Israeli government dictating USA foreign policy…

  55. If a Christian wanted to come into the public schools to talk about Christianity and even one atheist or non-Christian objected the ACLU would be right there standing up for the separation of Church and state. I see no reason why any Muslim should be allowed into the public school to teach about Islam if there are non-Muslims who object.At the very least parents who object to the teaching of Islam or any other religion should have the option to remove their children from the discussion.

  56. Go over to youtube and watch Wafa Sultan yelling at a cleric. She seems to be upset about something. She must be one of those ignorant bigoted islamophobes.

    Sometimes there is actually something to be upset about and no sense in sweeping it under the rug, or telling those who are speaking up that they are no good.

    We will not be silent.

  57. Hera, you are so right, they would boot any Christian out on his ear.

  58. Salim, I just saying that the facebook links brought in many more comments than I am used to seeing on this site. It was not a negative statement it was more of a WoW statement. Broke the dike means flooding or many more comments

  59. The bitch SHOULD swallow some poison. The only thing compatible with Islam is death. She chose. Let her choke on it. And for you moronic muslim lovers – they are not a race. Islam is a theocratic political system poised 2 swallow the world. May their supporters be beheaded first

  60. Islam’s Latest Contributions to Peace
    “Mohammed is God’s apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless
    to the unbelievers but merciful to one another” Quran 48:29

    2011.12.24 (Maiduguri, Nigeria) – A pastor and his young daughter are incinerated when Islamists fire bomb three churches.
    2011.12.24 (Takhta Pul, Afghanistan) – Three locals are killed by a Taliban bom.
    2011.12.24 (Bannu, Pakistan) – A Fedayeen suicide car bomber murders nine others.
    2011.12.23 (Damascus, Syria) – Over forty people are torn to shreds by two Shahid suicide bombers in an upscale district.
    2011.12.23 (Potiskum, Nigeria) – A 10-year-old boy is among the casualties of a shooting attack by Muslim militants.
    2011.12.23 (Mataban, Somalia) – A Religion of Peace ‘activist’ shoots three aid workers to death.
    LINE
    http://www.thereligionofpeace.com

  61. The Arabic school textbooks which show children how to chop off hands and feet under Sharia law
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2077658/The-Arabic-textbooks-children-chop-hands-feet-Sharia-law.html

  62. Victims of the Apostasy law in Islam | EuropeNews http://europenews.dk/en/node/50703

  63. If you take the Judeo Christian God and the Bible out of Public Schools, you DAMB WELL better keep the CULT OF HATE AND CARNAGE-ISLAM OUT OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS! Come ON

  64. Admin, please ban Dyann Jaxon and Debra Walker for hate speech.

  65. Bwahahah. Yes the truth always pains the devil’s ears. Silly little comrade BWAHAAHA… Good god! U tools R so predictable. (You forgot to call us racist. Slacker)

  66. Wow, seriously? These kids are never going to learn about tolerance if they can’t even be exposed to cultures and beliefs different from their own.

  67. Waaaa! Admin, please ban Comrade Stephen for being a commie and only applying OUR freedoms (of speech) to HIS BELIEFS and no one elses! And for accusing anyone who disagrees with him of “hate”.

  68. Debra and dyann, please grow up!! And get some education from a non biased source. All ur going to gain from those bigoted sites is more hate. And hate=violence.

  69. Ms. Walker
    I can pull up hundreds of stats on catholic priests molesting children alone. When you bring these stats remember your exposing the government, not the people or religion. Look in the quran and see if anything they do is right. Start with aristocracies in saudi arabia.

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