St. Paul, Minn. (May 25, 2010) – The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today welcomed a decision by the U.S. Department of Education – Office for Civil Rights (DOE-OCR) to launch an investigation into growing racial tensions in public high schools in St. Cloud and Owatonna.
CAIR-MN’s request for DOE intervention came following a series of anti-Muslim/anti-Somali incidents reported to the civil rights organization by students in St. Cloud and Owatonna.
CAIR-MN’s complaint to the DOE alleged that Somali high school students were subjected to harassment and a hostile environment on the basis of religion, race, color or national origin and the school districts failed to stop the harassment. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination by recipients of Federal financial assistance.
“Our goal is to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all students,” said CAIR-MN Civil Rights Director Taneeza Islam. “Decades after the beginning of the civil rights movement, no student should be constantly subjected to racial slurs or harassment at school.”
CAIR-MN had asked the U.S. Department of Education to investigate the incidents; aggressively implement racial and religious harassment policies and procedures; institute a zero-tolerance discrimination policy; discipline students, faculty and administrators who engage in bias-motivated behaviors; and provide peer mediation and diversity trainings to faculty and staff to create a safe community for learning and growing in Minnesota.
CAIR offers a booklet, called “An Educator’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices,” designed to help school officials provide a positive learning environment for students of all faiths.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.