PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Muslim activists launched a campaign on Wednesday against a series of educational books that they say promote anti-Islamic sentiment among U.S. school children.
“The World of Islam,” a 10-book series, encourages young readers to believe Muslims are terrorists and seek to undermine U.S. society, said the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy organization.
One book contains the passage: “For the first time, Muslims began immigrating to the U.S. in order to transform American society, sometimes through the use of terrorism.”
Moein Khawaja, civil rights director for CAIR in Pennsylvania, said the group has gotten dozens of complaints about the books from Muslim parents around the country.
He said he was not aware of any discrimination against Muslim children due to the books, which are intended for middle- and high-school students.
The books were published in late 2009 by Mason Crest Publishers of Broomall, Pennsylvania, which worked with the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute to ensure their accuracy. It was unclear if the books are in use in any schools.
Khawaja said at a news conference that the books are “rife with incorrect information and fear-mongering” and called the FPRI a “pro-war think tank that has vigorously advocated for the Iraq war in the past and continues to defend that position.”
Founded in 1955, the institute says on its website it is a non-profit group devoted to research on international affairs. It counted among its board members Alexander Haig, U.S. secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan, who recently died.
FPRI vice president Alan Luxenberg denied the books were anti-Islamic.
“This assertion is without basis, and there is no better way to ascertain the truth than to read the books,” the institute said in a press release.
Luxenberg said the terrorism quote had been taken out of context and that it followed five pages on the history of Muslim immigration to the United States that said only some U.S. Muslims became radicalized, starting in the 1980s.
Luxenberg is the author of one of the books, “Radical Islam,” the cover of which features a machine gun and a Muslim head scarf, with what looks like bloodstains underneath the scarf and the title word “Radical.”
In its defense, the institute noted a quote in “Radical Islam” that reads: “The Western world must ally itself with the Muslim world in the war on radical Islam.”
The series also includes “Islam in Europe” which Khawaja said accuses Muslims of being “the source of all social conflict” on the continent. A chronology in that volume shows the history of Muslims in Europe as a series of terrorist and extremist events, he said.
CAIR called on schools and libraries to exchange “The World of Islam” for “Introducing Islam,” another series published by Mason Crest that Khawaja said was written in cooperation with scholars of Islam and is more accurate.
Critics have accused CAIR of being a front for the Palestinian Hamas faction and of receiving funding from the Arab world.
Editing by Cynthia Osterman