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Archive for April 29th, 2007

Seed Newsvine

It is ironic that the root of extremist Islam took shape in Saudi Arabia under the teachings of Muhammad ibn Abdul Hahhab (1703-1792) whose goal it was to bring the Arabian peninsula back to the strict teachings of the Prophet. It is just this form of Wahhabism that is taught in the madrases of Pakistan also reported to be funded by the Saudis. Wahhabism is the root of Islamic extremism in the world today.

Do the Saudis themselves feel threatened by the very form of Islam that was developed and is practiced on their soil? What is going on here?

Memri reported the following:

Dr. Abd Al-Rahman Al-Hadlaq, supervisor of the counseling committee, told Al-Watan that the amount of aid given to the families depended on their financial situation, and added that this support also “had a positive effect on the prisoners themselves, and on their attitude towards the ideological therapy [provided by] the counseling program.” He said that the financial incentives were meant to “demonstrate the humanitarian side of the security forces, [and to show] the prisoners’ families that the state empathizes [with their problems], cares about their needs, and truly wishes to rehabilitate their sons, who have fallen prey to a misguided group that [merely] wishes to exploit the [difficult] conditions in which they and their families live in order to recruit further members from their families.”

Ali Sa’d Al-Mussa, a lecturer at King Khaled University in Abha, criticized the financial support granted to extremists and their families. He wrote in Al-Watan: “The honorable Sheikh Muhammad Al-Najimi, member of the ideological counseling committee, said that the state has so far spent over 100 million riyals on presents, weddings, cars and monthly salaries for prisoners who had espoused a distorted ideology, and for their families. It was also stated that this [financial aid] was one of the factors that convinced some of [these prisoners] to renounce their previous views…

“I am afraid that, [in this way], holding [extremist] views leads to earning a prize, or worse – a steady income. What extraordinary thing have these [extremists] done that we give them a free car only for renouncing their [extremist] views, while thousands of honest young people can only dream of [owning] a car? What extraordinary thing have these [prisoners] done that we [finance] their weddings, when thousands of honest young people can only dream – not of the scent of a woman but even of a bottle of perfume? What extraordinary thing have they done that we grant them and their families a monthly salary, while thousands of honest men cannot even dream of a job as security guards? People should be rewarded for their actions, but it seems that we have turned this concept upon its head…

clipped from www.memri.org
As part of its fight against terrorism, the Saudi Interior Ministry has been operating an ideological counseling program for security prisoners in the Saudi jails aimed at encouraging them to renounce their extremist beliefs. The program, which has been running for several years, is implemented by a counseling committee composed of ulema, psychiatrists and psychologists who hold counseling sessions with the prisoners and gives them lessons in Islam. When the counselors become convinced that a prisoner is reformed, they recommend his release from jail. [1]
It has recently been reported that, in addition to counseling, prisoners receive financial incentives to renounce their extremist views.

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Seed Newsvine

The Chicago Tribune finally addressed the issue of the Cary-Grove High School response to Allan Lee’s response to a senior English writing assignment. I add some additional quotes from the article below:

Involving the police struck Jim Barnabee as overkill. He is a creative-writing instructor at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire and, like most teachers, has been trained to alert counselors or administrators if he thinks students might harm themselves or others.

He referred a student to a school social worker this year after she turned in a poem about suicide. It was a poorly written “emotional spew” that paid little heed to the assignment—all hallmarks of potential trouble, he said.

He added that Lee’s essay, by contrast, seemed more like the product of an annoyed senior, deserving perhaps of school discipline but not police intervention.

“If you refer someone to the police, all you’re going to do is teach kids to hide their feelings, to shove it down and not let it out there,” he said. “And I don’t think that’s what we want to teach young writers.”

The point here is that the CGHS teacher and administrators over reacted rather than practice appropriate measures.

Mary Kay Albamonte, a 22 year veteran teacher said:

“There are some rights that stop at the schoolhouse door,” she said. “Kids can’t just say or do anything. We’re responsible for them, and we have to be vigilant about it. When it’s staring you in the face you have to take it seriously.”

She and other teachers talk about limits with their students at the beginning of their courses. But some say that with violence and sex pervading American pop culture, teens don’t always understand what’s appropriate.

The issue is not one of rights or the lack of rights. It is one of the appropriateness of adult behavior when faced with perhaps inappropriate behavior on the part of one or more students.

If a student is engaged in a criminal act it is fully appropriate to arrest that student and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. When did completing a school assignment become criminal. My goodness, would that we could get more students to complete their assignments. What may have been inappropriate was the content of Lee’s essay which you can read for yourself by clicking on the link. The language of the essay is not, even in the wildest stretch of ones overactive imagination, criminal. Disturbing, perhaps, but criminal, not in a million years.

As an English teacher, I read the essay in the context of the assignment, and through the lens of adolescent pop-culture. I read the words of a senior about to graduate and get on with his life. I read words that reference music, events, and even conditions in the classroom. I read the words of a very typical free writing exercise, one that is neither intended to be finished work nor coherent and cohesive in form.

Lighten-up CGHS. Give this kid some rope.

clipped from www.chicagotribune.com
A high school writing exercise that ended with the arrest of a McHenry County student last week was a dramatic illustration of a dilemma faced by young authors and their teachers: Where is the line that separates provocative from alarming?
The answer, many say, depends on far more than the words on the page.
A student’s demeanor, disciplinary record and relationship with the teacher all relate to whether a bloody piece of work is viewed as a bold, boundary-pushing statement or a thinly veiled threat.
“Judgment calls are required on all of this,” said Chris Meade, an English teacher at Glenbard North with 30 years of experience. “Nothing happens outside of a context.”
Allen Lee, 18, a straight-A senior at Cary-Grove High in Cary, was charged with disorderly conduct after he turned in an assignment that had called for him to write continuously for 30 minutes without making corrections, and without judging or censoring what he produced.

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