News of sixth grade boys praying to Allah on a public-school field trip to a mosque this spring in Wellesley, Massachusetts broke yesterday (see the video here). And now, the statements of the school's superintendent and the mosque's leader aren't adding up, according to conversations with the video's producer and an Islamic expert.
In an account reported by the Boston Globe, the mosque claims that students were not invited to pray, and that the students came forward and initiated what ended in bowing to Allah.
"Certainly in our tours we do not invite kids to take part, but if someone wants to come pray and take part, we shouldn’t prevent them," said Bilal Kaleem, president of the Muslim American Society of Boston, which manages and runs the cultural center.
But a statement by Wellesly Superintendent Bella Wong claims that "a representative of the mosque told students they were welcome to join in the prayer that was occurring." And after that, "five students chose to participate."
That, according to Americans for Peace and Tolerance leader Charles Jacobs, is "contradicting." His group released the video showing the field trip. "It again evokes the issue of credibility of mosque spokespeople who have for years denied in the face of documented evidence, that they are tied to, if not run by radicals who have said awful things about Jews, Christians, homosexuals and American democracy," Jacobs said in an e-mail to The Blaze.
Conflicting statements, however, could be overshadowed by other comments made during the field trip. According to the video, a female convert explains to students that women enjoyed voting privileges under Muhammed long before women in America enjoyed the same freedom:
At the time of prophet Muhammed, women were allowed to express their opinions and vote. In this country [America], women didn't get that right until less than a hundred years ago. So Islam was actually very advanced in terms of advancing women's rights.
But Muslim expert Robert Spencer says that is simply not true. "It's a historical fantasy to say that women could vote under Muhammad," Spencer said in an e-mail. He is the director of Jihad Watch and author of several books on Islam including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). "He didn't run a democracy; he was an authoritarian ruler." Spencer pointed out that the Koran says men are superior to women, that disobedient women should be beaten, and that a woman's testimony is worth half that of a man.
"In Muhammad's time, and in Islamic law, women were essentially commodities and possessions of men," he added.
The mosque's claim also doesn't sit well with Jacobs, who says women are still treated as second-class citizens in much of the Muslim world. To him, then, the superintendent's statement is inadequate because it doesn't say anything about clarifying the false claims made about women's freedoms.
"[The superintendent] has to rectify the lies told the kids," Jacobs said in his e-mail. "Women could NOT vote under Mohammed. Indeed American children should know and sympathize if not join, struggles to liberate women under Islam from stonings, forced encasement in Burkas, [and] honor killings."
Ironically, after discussing women's rights, female students and chaperons were not allowed to take part in the prayer, and were segregated from the males who were.
According to the superintendent's assistant, Wong was unavailable for comment.