Earlier this week, The Daily Wire reported that a school board member whose father was on the board of the mosque attended by 9/11 hijackers and who hired as imam a top al-Qaeda operative, opposed a resolution honoring the victims of the attacks.
Fairfax County, Virginia, school board member Abrar Omeish lambasted her fellow Democrats for not supporting an “alternative” resolution she had proposed, which had not been made public. Her supporters said she merely wanted an “inclusive” statement that would add a little balance to a statement honoring the 3,000 Americans who died on September 11, 2001, with a reminder that some Muslims experienced discrimination in the aftermath.
Ms Omeish wanted a truthful, inclusive statement instead of the usual whitewashing that is so devoid of meaning.
9/11 and its aftermath is complex, and people like Luke still use it to paint with a racist brush, tarnishing the heroes they claim to hold so reverently
— Desiree (@Desarrayed) September 10, 2021
Now, Omeish has posted her version of the resolution, and it is more extreme than one would have imagined — spending only one paragraph on the 3,000 dead Americans, and 10 paragraphs mourning the discrimination faced by Muslims, such as 25 reported anti-Muslim hate crimes in the state of Virginia twenty years ago.
The resolution is called “Commemorating Twenty Years of Social and Political Impact of the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks” and concludes with the statement “BE IT RESOLVED, that the Fairfax County School Board encourages the teaching of September 11, 2001 and its social and political impacts on our community and our country, as a lesson in the dangers of collective blame, xenophobia, and the demonization of entire populations,” and that the School Board “denounces two decades of policies, actions, and rhetoric which disproportionately impacted Arab Americans, American Muslims, and those percieved [sic] to be Arabs or Muslims here in Fairfax County and across our country.”
Omeish lives with her father Esam, who was a director of the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Virginia, and hired as its imam Anwar al-Awlaki, who former President Barack Obama later ordered to be killed by drone strike. The mosque was attended by two of the 9/11 hijackers as well as the shooter in the 2009 attack on Fort Hood, Texas.
Omeish was the Virginia co-chair of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. In June, she gave a graduation speech in which she told a mainly-immigrant class of high schoolers that they were entering a world filled with “racism, extreme versions of individualism and capitalism, [and] white supremacy,” and encouraged them to remember their “jihad” and reject the concepts of objectivity and neutrality.
In May, a Jewish group rescinded an award she was set to receive for promoting “equity” after she wrote, “Hurts my heart to celebrate while Israel kills Palestinians & desecrates the Holy Land right now. Apartheid & colonization were wrong yesterday and will be today, here and there.”
The proposed resolution, which no other member of the school board agreed to support, says in its entirety:
WHEREAS, on the occasion of the Twentieth Anniversary of September 11, 2001, the Fairfax County School Board honors the memory of the nearly 3,000 lives lost, including the three victims from Fairfax County, and the first responders, such as firefighters, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), paramedics, rescue and recovery workers, and police officers who risked their lives that day and in the weeks following to save others, including those deployed from Bailey’s Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department to respond to the attack on the Pentagon; and
WHEREAS, according to FBI statistics, there have been nearly 5,000 victims of reported anti-Arab or anti-Muslim hate crime since 2001, including others percieved to be Arab or Muslim, which increased exponentially in the backlash following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, much of which impacted our families here in Fairfax County; and,
WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Justice, just days after September 11, 2001, documented that members of our own Fairfax community were discriminated against, and according to the Virginia State Police there were 28 reported anti-Arab and 25 reported anti-Muslim hate crimes in the Commonwealth in 2001 alone, though the actual number of victims is much larger as hate crime is severely under-reported; and
WHEREAS, the U.S. government also engaged in extensive and unwarranted discrimination and ethnic and religious profiling following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks which harmed FCPS families and students, some of which targeted FCPS Muslim student groups; and,
WHEREAS, the American Psychological Association documents this as among the most significant barriers to learning with mental health impacts that cannot be ignored, as stress stemming from discrimination can lead to achievement gaps in academic performance for students; and,
WHEREAS, a quarter of Arab Americans polled in 2010 reported post–September 11 abuse which led to higher levels of psychological distress, lower levels of happiness, and worse health status; and more than half of Muslim students polled in 2015 reported experiencing bullying, which is twice the national average; and in a 2020 American Muslim poll half of American Muslim parents reported that their children experienced religious-based bullying in schools, and in the same survey parents reported that one out of every three incidents involved a school official; and in early findings of a larger research study of Muslim student experiences in Northern Virginia, presented to the Virginia Department of Education reveal that Muslim students experience targeted bullying during September 11 lessons, such trends of religious- and ethnic-based bullying are experienced by FCPS families, staff, and students on a daily basis; and,
WHEREAS, the wars launched following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, according to Brown University, directly led to the loss of about 7,000 of our U.S. military personnel and nearly 400,000 civilians, journalists, and humanitarian aid workers, including members of our families here in Fairfax, at an estimated cost of $5.8 trillion in public taxpayer monies; and,
WHEREAS public discourse surrounding the refugees of the post-2001 wars, including those who live in our own neighborhoods, remains harmful to our most vulnerable families in the ways it includes xenophobia and misinformation about security risks and threats, and with particular attention to recent influxes as we protect existing FCPS families and welcome new ones; and,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Fairfax County School Board encourages the teaching of September 11, 2001 and its social and political impacts on our community and our country, as a lesson in the dangers of collective blame, xenophobia, and the demonization of entire populations, and affirms the need for proactive and intentional anti-bias education and policies as a means toward examining these societal ills; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that mental health services for the families of victims of September 11, 2001, first responders, military veterans, victims of hate crime and discrimination, and refugees are essential to addressing how these events continue to shape our community; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Fairfax County School Board condemns violence, hate, bigotry, discrimination, and xenophobia in all forms, and denounces two decades of policies, actions, and rhetoric which disproportionately impacted Arab Americans, American Muslims, and those percieved to be Arabs or Muslims here in Fairfax County and across our country.
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