Debbie Almontaser and Ward Churchill

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Ward Churchill was a University Professor in Colorado, fired for his writing actions taken when he wrote an essay about September 11th. Debbie Almontaser, a public school teacher in New York City who because of the actions of other Muslims on September 11th found herself being the talked about subject for all the wrong reasons.

Debbie Almontaser due to her long 15 years working in the education system was set to be the head of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, a public school which would help Arab-American students new to the country.  Many individuals were against this, including Daniel Pipes who consistently wrote anti-Muslim articles and blatantly stated that the school was a bad idea.  Debbie went through a nightmare of first trying to find a suitable building with the Department of Education. Several buildings would first accept the offer, and then reject it. In Park Slope parents protested it, the protest being called the ‘Holy War’, other school buildings would give them a fourth floor or minimal space, but went back on their deal, forcing them to choose a low quality building which had to convert a cafeteria into three classrooms.

Debbie’s nightmare of trying to put the school together did not stop there.  Debbie helped start Arab American Heritage Week, the last event involved AWAAM (Arab Women in the Arts and Media).  At the festival there was a shirt that said Intifada, which meant shaking off but as Debbie said, through evolution and over time has become to mean uprising, linking to the uprisings in the Middle East.  Members of the Stop the Madrassa Coalition found the shirts at the event and held Debbie responsible since she is on the board of one of the companies that helps with the event, Saba.  They used to this to try and say she was unfit to be principal of a school, saying that she was supporting violence.

Debbie and Ward are similar because of the situations they have both gone through where people find other arguments against them to make them appear to be unfit to teach or to appear negatively in the public eye.  For Ward the excuse to fire him was academic misconduct including plagiarism and falsification.  Meanwhile for Debbie they tried to remove her from being a principal because of the meaning behind the Intifada shirts, and saying she was the one responsible for them.  In both cases, they were held responsible for such occasions that really would not have affected them had the issue of 9-11 never happened.

Video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViMYROBmoG4&feature=player_embedded

Nightmares about school:

http://monthlyreview.org/2011/07/01/khalil-gibran-international-academy

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