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Hate-Mongering Hannity And FOX News Target NYC Arab School, Falsely Paint It As Muslim Madrassa

Reported by Ellen - July 26, 2007 -

Just one day after Sean Hannity held himself up as a standard bearer for journalistic integrity, he and FOX News embarked on a smear campaign against a new NYC public school that will focus on Middle Eastern studies. An article in the New York Sun (hardly a liberal publication) makes clear that the school will be neither politically nor religiously oriented. Yet Hannity and FOX repeatedly called it a Muslim school and deliberately tried to depict it as a training ground for terrorists. With video.

As the New York Sun reported, the Khalil Gibran International Academy, a public secondary school, will focus on culture, not the region's political conflicts.

"The school will not be a vehicle for political ideology," a Department of Education spokesman, David Cantor, said of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, due to open this September in Brooklyn.

As for the sorts of topics the school will cover, the CEO of the Office of New Schools, Garth Harries, gave as an example a math lesson plan that would mention that an Arabic mathematician invented the concept of zero.

"It's going to follow Department of Education regulations," the director of the Arab-American Family Support Center, Lena Alhusseini, who helped design the school, said. "It's going to be exactly like all the schools in the city, the same curriculum."

But Hannity and FOX News repeatedly referred to it as a Muslim school and implied that it will cater to extremists-in-training. In one teaser, Hannity called it an “all Muslim school” being funded by tax dollars. While he spoke, B roll footage showed scenes from 9/11 in a not-so-subtle effort to tie the school to terrorists. In another teaser, a chyron read, “Islam 101?” as Hannity claimed New York was “blurring the line between separation of church and state.” In yet another, Hannity asked, “Will this be the breeding ground for radicals?” The chyron said, “Funding fatwa?”

Alan Colmes began the discussion by choking over the scripted introduction. “Coming soon to a classroom near you, Al Qaeda.” He quickly said that’s not his view. He also made it clear that the school is Arab-oriented, not Muslim. Colmes further noted that Khalil Gibran was Christian. Nevertheless, “Madrassa in the Big Apple” headlined the graphic that served as the backdrop during the segment. I’m surprised there wasn’t a photo of a crazed-looking Arab teaching students how to attack with a box cutter.

Guest Sara Springer claimed that her only concern was that the New York City Department of Education has not been transparent about the curriculum, the teachers, etc.

Colmes asked her what she’s worried about.

“We’re not worried about anything,” Springer replied. “All we are asking… the Department of Education is not being clear.”

But Springer was there as a representative of a group called “Stop the Madrassa.” As the other guest, Hussein Ibbish, of the Foundation for Arab-American Leadership, pointed out, why would she be intent on stopping something she only wanted to learn more about? In fact, one look at the Stop the Madrassa website makes it clear Springer has already made up her mind. “We demand that the KGIA should never be opened - it is both a religious and political school,” the site states. Yet Springer disingenuously portrayed herself as someone with just a few unanswered concerns.

In contrast to his solicitous tone with Springer, Hannity immediately went into bullyboy mode with Ibbish. Ibbish brought up the bigotry and bias on the Stop the Madrassa website (one comment reads, “They can learn to be Americans or they can go back to the oppressive Islamic Theocracy they came from. Go get them.”). But Hannity cut Ibbish off by snapping - with unintended irony - “Let’s stop the gratuitous attacks.”