(Daily Caller) – Hijab Day happened at a taxpayer-funded charter school in the suburbs of Sacramento on Wednesday, Jan. 28. All female students — but only female students — were encouraged to wear Muslim headscarves.
The school is Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep in Natomas, Calif., local Fox affiliate KTXL reports.
Wednesday’s “NP3 Hijab Day” in Natomas was a student-organized event. School officials swear they neither encouraged nor stifled it.
The school and the school district began to receive criticism after Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch publicized a Hijab Day flyer sent to him by a reader.
Spencer claims that the student who organized Hijab Day at Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep has worked as an intern for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Spencer also claims that the same student delivered a presentation about Islam and Islamophobia at a meeting that was mandatory for school employees. A CAIR representative attended that meeting, he says.
He also says that Tom Rutten, the principal at Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep, had strongly urged female students to participate in Hijab Day by wearing veils.
Rutten insists he doesn’t understand what the big deal is.
“It’s not school sponsored,” Rutten told KTXL. “It’s not school run. We’re not forcing an opinion on anyone.”
Rutten said that Hijab Day was part of a student’s senior project. The student wanted to teach other students how to wear Muslim headscarves properly.
“Hijab Day is a way of teaching tolerance and understanding of others,” Rutten told the Sacramento Fox affiliate.
Rutten said he has received a number of phone calls from people around the country. The high school principal described those callers as “pretty close-minded.”
The student who organized Hijab Day at the public school refused to talk on camera but did provide a letter to KTXL.
“At a time when anti-Muslim sentiment is growing, I wanted to let my classmates and teachers know about the challenges that young Muslim women face when they put on a headscarf,” the student wrote.
“The person who promoted the misinformation about this issue, Robert Spencer, is one of the most notorious Islamophobes in America,” the student added.
”This extreme reaction clearly demonstrates why this presentation was needed in the first place.”
Spencer, who holds a Master’s degree in religious studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, wrote a weekly column for many years for Human Events. He now writes for PJ Media and FrontPage Magazine. He has spoken at dozens and dozens of prestigious universities and has led FBI and United States Army seminars on radical Islam.
The Hijab Day in Natomas was not the first time students in American public schools have decided to wear Muslim veils to make political statements.
Around the country, the trappings of Christianity have often not been accorded the same celebratory status as the veil forced on women in many Muslim countries.
Last year, for example, public school teachers in both Texas and Missouri either confiscated Bibles or yelled at students for carrying Bibles on school premises.
In 2013, the Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation — which is strangely absent from the Natomas hijab fracas — bullied a New Hampshire school district into forbidding a mother from praying on the front steps of her kids’ high school each morning.
In September 2014, the same group bullied a Florida school district into banning team chaplains, signs with Bible verses and praying before football games.
In 2013, a biology teacher in a Buffalo, N.Y. suburb filed a lawsuit claiming that school district officials threatened to fire her unless she removed several objects referencing religion — including a quote by Ronald Reagan — from her classroom.
Meanwhile, back in Natomas, the local school district remains most famous, of course, because a teacher allegedly dragged a seven-year-old girl out of class after the girl had spilled some water. The little girl, left completely unattended, walked out of Jefferson Elementary School, moseyed down a busy road and traipsed over an interstate overpass, crossing freeway entrance and exit ramps. She walked for two miles altogether, stopping at a Wal-Mart and then at an On the Border fast-casual restaurant where she asked for a cup of water. Her parents finally found her wandering around a neighborhood near her home.