Tom Horne is violating college students' rights & selling Islamophobia, critics say

A neighborhood Muslim civil rights group is
pushing again on criticism of Amnesty Worldwide in Arizona faculties
leveled final week by Tom Horne, the state’s faculties chief, saying his
feedback violate the free speech rights of scholars and contribute to
rising Islamophobia. 

Earlier this month, the student-led
chapters of UNICEF and Amnesty Worldwide at Desert Mountain Excessive
Faculty in Scottsdale met throughout lunchtime to debate the Israel-Hamas
battle, presenting a slideshow that, amongst different info, accused
Israel of committing varied human rights violations towards

An early iteration of the slideshow was posted to social media, the place it drew ire from proper wing activists. Horne responded by calling on superintendents throughout the state to disband golf equipment aligned with the 2 organizations and denouncing the slideshow as antisemitic and anti-American. 

On Wednesday, the Arizona arm of the
Council on American-Islamic Relations publicly excoriated Horne, saying
the superintendent of public instruction took a political stance on the
expense of Muslim and Arab-American college students. 

“Tom Horne sounded extra just like the
ambassador to the state of Israel than he did the superintendent of
public schooling in Arizona,” stated volunteer board member and civil
rights lawyer David Chami. “He was extra anxious about defending the
picture of the state of Israel and the Israeli Protection Forces than he was
in defending the scholars in his state.” 

Chami, whose two sons are members of
Desert Mountain Excessive’s Amnesty Worldwide membership, stated Horne additionally
tried to publicly determine the membership’s trainer sponsor, which
prompted the sponsor’s resignation from the membership, successfully disbanding
it till one other sponsor will be discovered. His actions and feedback
infringed on the free speech rights of the scholars, Chami stated, including
that each of his sons and different college students concerned with the membership have
confronted backlash, together with hate on social media and being referred to as Nazis. 

The Council on American-Islamic
Relations, the nationwide counterpart to the Arizona chapter, just lately
reported a drastic rise in anti-Arab and anti-Muslim incidents. Within the
month since Hamas’ unprecedented assault on Israel on Oct. 7, CAIR
obtained 1,283 requests for assist and experiences of bias, a putting enhance from 2022, when a median of 406 complaints had been obtained in a 29-day interval. 

In an emailed assertion, Horne, who
is Jewish, strongly denounced discrimination towards any college students, however
appeared to stay unmoved in his opposition to Amnesty Worldwide. 

“I’m adamantly against
discriminating towards anybody based mostly on their race, faith or
ethnicity,” he stated. “However objecting to folks justifying the horrors of
the October seventh Hamas assault on Israel is a distinct matter. It’s
price noting that, in keeping with the Anti-Defamation League, since
October seventh there was an astonishing 388 % enhance in anti-semitic incidents within the U.S.”

Rep. Athena Salman, D-Tempe,
criticized Horne for “placing a goal” on college students’ backs and stated it
reminded her of the put up 9/11 surge in discrimination she needed to endure
as a Palestinian-American scholar. Salman, who has household within the
Israeli-occupied West Financial institution, has been a vocal advocate of Palestinian
rights, and earlier this month mobilized 16 of the state’s legislative
Democrats to ship a letter to the Biden administration urging the President to name for a cease-fire.

It’s Horne’s accountability to be conscious of and advocate for all college students, Salman stated. 

“When we have now these positions of
energy as elected officers, they arrive with an immense quantity of
accountability — particularly if you find yourself the highest elected one that is
alleged to be advocating for all college students,” she stated. 

Kristine Harrington, a spokesperson
for Scottsdale Unified Faculty District, advised the Arizona Mirror final
week that the district had no plans to get rid of the golf equipment, and that
doing so would in actual fact be in violation of federal regulation. The Equal Entry Act of 1984
expressly prohibits public faculties from denying college students the
alternative to conduct conferences due to non secular, political or
philosophical content material. Banning the golf equipment as Horne requested would quantity
to trespassing on the First Modification rights of the scholars and drive
the district to forfeit any federal funds.