Under the guise of ensuring that civil rights and religious freedom are upheld across the nation's schools, the U.S. Justice Department has revealed a plan to clamp down on religious discrimination, namely so-called Islamophobia. CNSNews reports:
The new enforcement effort announced on Tuesday will "expand" DOJ's ability to investigate and prosecute complaints; lead community outreach; and develop guidance for federal prosecutors.
Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, said one goal of the new initiative is to promote religious pluralism and create safe, supportive and inclusive schools for all children.
Following acts of terrorism, including 9-11 and San Bernardino, "too many Muslim Americans and those perceived as Muslim suffer a backlash of violence and discrimination," Gupta said. "We see criminal threats against mosques; harassment in schools; and even reports of violence targeting Muslim Americans, people of Arab or South Asian descent, and people perceived to be members of these groups."
Gupta said the new initiative, dubbed "Combating Religious Discrimination," will help DOJ fight the backlash against Muslim students and students perceived as Muslim. The initiative also will "benefit children of every background and every religion," she added.
"Our schools must remain the places where our children feel safe and supported. The places where they confront differences by building bridges of understanding. And the places where they learn that America guarantees freedom, justice and opportunity for all people -- regardless of what you look like, where you come from or which religion you observe."
Gupta stated that the DOJ's Civil Rights Division has already has sued schools for engaging in alleged religious discrimination:
In part because of our efforts, today, Christian students in Bakersfield City, California, can observe Ash Wednesday without fearing an unexcused absence. Muslim students in Lewisville, Texas, can pray together during lunch. Jewish students in Pine Bush, New York, can walk the halls, ride the bus and sit in class without enduring anti-Semitic bullying and intimidation. Arabic-speaking EL students in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, can learn from qualified teachers. And Sikh students in DeKalb County, Georgia, can wear a turban to school without facing harassment.
Gupta said that roundtables are to be held at various locations across the nation to focus on "religion-based hate crimes."