CAIR's complaint was bait, not advocacy

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has done a grave disservice to the city of Lewiston and its school department.

Rather than taking the time to do the most basic fact-finding to determine whether prayer is permitted in the city's public schools, CAIR issued a serious complaint and made four precise demands on the district last week, and then announced its action through a mass e-mail to the nation's media before even sharing its concerns with Lewiston school officials.

The entire episode reeks of highlighting CAIR's agenda, not advocating for a student who believed she'd been wrongly denied the right to pray in school.

CAIR describes itself as "America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organizations." Too bad it's not also America's most responsible Muslim advocacy organization.

The very definition of "advocacy" is to advise and guide. Not accuse and demand. CAIR's decision to go public with its complaints before any effort was made to work out its differences with Lewiston school officials did more harm than good for the city's Muslim population. But, by CAIR's own admission, that's how the organization operates:

Accuse first. Communicate second.

It's a fact that seventh-grader Nasra Aden believed she had been told by a Lewiston Middle School teacher that she could not pray in school. It's also a fact that Lewiston schools do not permit kneeling in prayer in building corridors for safety reasons.

These facts together do not mean students are not permitted to pray in school. It just means they have to do so within the school's safety guidelines, which is entirely appropriate in our public schools.

Was there a misunderstanding between what the young woman was told, what she heard, what her family understood and what was conveyed to CAIR? Clearly, there was.

But a simple misunderstanding does not a controversy make.

CAIR grabbed hold of this misunderstanding and days later kicked it into what its national communication director termed a "controversy." There's no controversy here. There's a misunderstanding that developed through a distorted trail of conversation which would have been better resolved with questions instead of accusations.

The district already does everything CAIR demands: Muslims can and do pray on school property; the district follows No Child Left Behind guidelines for religious accommodation; the district's civil rights teams are active and ensure students don't face retaliation because of their faith; and district staff routinely receives diversity training.

Lewiston schools have done extraordinary work in accommodating the in-migration of the city's Muslim community since 2001, including more than tripling its English Language Learning program to facilitate communication which, in turn, hastens learning.

If CAIR really looked at the programs and policies in Lewiston's schools regarding education and freedoms of the city's Muslim students, it would recognize solid, respectful, responsive and appropriate practices. It did not, preferring instead to manufacture a controversy.

CAIR's letter of complaint and rack of demands was bait. It was not advocacy.

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 's picture

Unfortunately, this is a

Unfortunately, this is a case of political correctness run amok. Allowing people to come here , who seem ungrateful yet accept state checks. No elected official will complain on the drain of local resources or they will be accused of either being racist or not multicultural. I moved to the area 7 years ago and shocked to see the influx. I came to realize how much of a welfare state this is. If the L.A. area was a more economically viable area than maybe people would tolerate some of this antics and behavior in the name of compassion but all I see is what amounts to be folks taking low paying jobs and collecting welfare. The area was never equiped to accept these people to begin with. These people have nothing to offer but leech on to pulic services and challenge established historical traditions and culture in the area all in the name of political correctness.

 's picture

Again generalizing and

Again generalizing and stereotyping... "These" people as it is put it-are worthy people just like myself or the next person. "These" people are dedicated, hard-working Americans. "Theses" people are college educated, Mothers, Fathers. "These" people are survivors... just like myself or the next person-in a sense we are all the same. Its comments like these that do more harm than good and portray Lewiston in a negative light. Lewiston is not 'equipped' for comments like this. Disgusting!

On another note... what is considered low paying jobs? It can't be less than minimum wage? At minimum wage a person loses help from the state. DHS can tell you that.

Excellent presentation of ignorance is more like it.

"Small minds discuss people, Average minds discuss events, Great minds discuss ideas"~E. Roosevelt

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The queen has her opinion;

The queen has her opinion; the Pirate has his. We disagree, but we try to remain respectful of one another. That's what makes this place full of love such a fun place to be. Some have to understand--disliking what's going on in our community does not necessarily constitute bigotry any more than not having voted for obama constitutes racism.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Excellent presentation of

Excellent presentation of thought.

 's picture

Why did this go to CAIR

Why did this go to CAIR anyway? There are Muslim advacacy groups in Maine that could have been of much better help. Did they contact CAIR, or did the family, or did that relative in Canada? This was just a completely botched situation, blown completely out of proportion, with nothing to show for the time and energy that was wasted on it.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I believe it was Catholic

I believe it was Catholic Charities and Lewiston Mayor at the time, Tara, who orchestrated the coming of Somalis to Maine and Lewiston in particular. The pirate always felt that they came with federal dollars for the community attached to them which was what made them such desirable acquisitions for Lewiston. "A good fit" they said.

 's picture

We are in a recession. We

We are in a recession. We are no longer able to be as gracious as in the past. Send the ones without jobs "home"- whereever that is...

RONALD RIML's picture

"Cair" blew it?? Faux News

"Cair" blew it??

Faux News took the cake!!!

Remember the April 11, 2007 incident with the "Ham Sandwich" placed on a table with Somalian students at Lewiston High?

A "parody" of the event was reported on the Fox News Network as fact by morning news program, Fox and Friends co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade, who repeatedly mixed elements of the fabricated story with those from real wire sources - and without the slightest hesitation continuously ridiculed Superintendant Levesque for his handling of the incident.

Though Fox won the resulting defamation lawsuit filed by Mr. Levesque, the trial Judge noted:

The judge would go on to render findings that painted an exceptionally poor portrayal of the folks at Fox. The judge noted, “The defendants were certainly gullible. Even if they believed the segments of Plagman that they repeated on the air, at least two portions of the Plagman piece were so absurd that they should have raised the defendants’ truth-seeking antennae and caused them to question the accuracy of the article as a whole.

“Their failure to conduct further research (this was not breaking news; there were no time constraints) or to question the reliability of the Plagman piece was a ‘negligent failure to connect the dots, and, one would hope, an ‘extreme departure from professional standards.’”

According to the District Court Judge, “The record suggests that the initial research may have been completed in about twenty minutes.” Also within the summary, the judge noted that despite the executive producer’s instructions that Levesque be called for an on air interview, the morning show began airing the parody version of the report for roughly two hours before anyone called Levesque’s office.

When I was a young Sailor - I drank like a Sailor, fought like a Sailor, and screwed like a Sailor. Now that I am old and wise - I have a few scars, but many fond memories.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The pirate has often

The pirate has often disagreed with the patriot, but not this time. You have nailed the bull's eye on this one, brother. Well said.
BTW--the former mayor you mentioned was Laurier Raymond. A good man, but because of his plea to the Somali community, he was demonized and portrayed nationally as a racist bigot who hated Somalis. Another crucifixion of an innocent man. These people seem to bring unrest with them regardless of where they go.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Of those working, most of

Of those working, most of the positions they hold are funded by government, Catholic Charities, or United Way. Yeah, I know, a few high school kids are working the registers at Hannaford's, but that isn't what we're talking about here. Unemployment among the able adults is still in the 50% range.

I have to admit reading

I have to admit reading saome of the bigotry expressed here byPirate and others is shameful!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I don't know about the

I don't know about the others, but the Pirate takes bob67's allegation as a compliment. By the way, where, exactly, is the bigotry. Where has the Pirate written anything that was not true? You took the shot. At least, back it up with something.

 's picture

Of course its always easy to

Of course its always easy to find a scapegoat in something or someone without really acknowledging the ACTUAL situation. "Was there a misunderstanding between what the young woman was told, what she heard, what her family understood... " I'm sure she understood it just fine. I don't appreciate the fact the this letter would even underestimate her or her daughter for that matter. Bad letter, bad letter! How about one on how Muslims are treated in our state!?! I would think that this would be of more importance.

"Small minds discuss people, Average minds discuss events, Great minds discuss ideas"~E. Roosevelt

 's picture

How are muslims treated in

How are muslims treated in our state. Lets see: Food stamps, MainCare, MediCare, WIC, Section 8, free education, and all the other "perks" that any other poor white christian Mainer has the ability to get. She may have had a problem with English translation for all you know, or was new and didn't know what the policies were. Were you personally present to witness this ACTUAL situation? Or are you just drawing on personal feelings that have little to do with this ACTUAL situation?

 's picture

Its comments like these that

Its comments like these that generalize and stereotype ALL Muslims in our state. Absolutely disgusting and absurd!

"Small minds discuss people, Average minds discuss events, Great minds discuss ideas"~E. Roosevelt

 's picture

Hahaha! That's the funniest

Hahaha! That's the funniest thing I've heard all day! Thanks! I really needed that! "Small minds discuss people..." need I say more.

"Small minds discuss people, Average minds discuss events, Great minds discuss ideas"~E. Roosevelt

 's picture

Queenhoneybee is worse. At

Queenhoneybee is worse. At least Tron doesn't end every post with some obnoxious signature line. Repeating the same quote over and over again does nothing to make one appear intelligent.

 's picture



PAUL ST JEAN's picture



RONALD RIML's picture

Hulk - How come you've

Hulk - How come you've always avoided my question as to whether or not you've served in our Armed Forces.....

Did you or not?

When I was a young Sailor - I drank like a Sailor, fought like a Sailor, and screwed like a Sailor. Now that I am old and wise - I have a few scars, but many fond memories.

 's picture

Just shaking my head. What

Just shaking my head. What a tangled mess of political correctness. Good luck.

All the best,


 's picture

CAIR = Organization using

CAIR = Organization using political correctness to further weaken the US from within to propel a suspect agenda. They have already been linked to some in dangerous circles around the world. People need to stop giving them a forum. They are a bunch of thugs trying to bullying towns like Lewiston.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

And, unfortunately,

And, unfortunately, succeeding.


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