History teacher Kelly Miliziano was shocked to hear that she was under attack by numerous anti-Muslim parties after Council on American Islam Relations (CAIR) member Hassan Shibly came in to speak to her AP World History class about Islam in November.

“It’s one of the religions that students have a lot of misconceptions about, so when that happens, as a world history teacher, my goal is to make it more understandable,” said Miliziano in an exclusive interview with the Oracle.

Led by executive director of the Florida Family Association (FFA), David Caton, a wave of anger was directed at Miliziano. Additionally, one of her student’s parents called the school to complain, and letters were sent to the county (both for and against Miliziano).

According to Miliziano, Shibly was brought into the class to reinforce the curriculum; they were discussing Islam for two weeks prior to his appearance.

“I could say the same information Shibly said, and they could read it in their textbook, but having a person in front of them explaining it often helps them relate to the material, learn it better and understand it better,” said Miliziano.

The information Shibly presented could also be integral to the students’ success on their AP exams in May, according to Miliziano.

“There’s a DBQ (Document Based Question) on Islam that students have done in past years, and I think they have a better understanding of what Muslims believe. If they were asked to compare and contrast Islam to Judaism and Christianity they’d be able to do that,” said Miliziano.

According to Miliziano, a majority of the students were interested in the teachings, and also asked questions once Shibly’s presentation came to an end.

“I think for most students it was the first time they had met a Muslim or heard someone speak about Islam, but I think the majority of students were engaged, and a lot of really good questions were asked,” said Miliziano.

Caton’s FFA didn’t have the same perspective as Miliziano. The association felt that Shibly was a radical Muslim and Miliziano needed to either discontinue his visits or bring in other speakers that could “oppose” Shibly’s view.

However Miliziano had planned this prior to the beginning of the school year.

“(At the beginning of the year) we talked about what type of guest speakers we want, and what areas of the curriculum the students might benefit from a guest speaker coming in, and we originally invited someone from the Buddhist temple but they didn’t get back to (World History teacher) Shelli Barton.”

According to Miliziano, they’ve since located a guest speaker on Buddhism, but she plans to wait until next year seeing as it doesn’t fit in the current curriculum.

“We really like it to be something that has to do with what the students are studying and not just for the sake of bringing in a guest speaker,” said Miliziano.

Additionally, Miliziano has a Catholic priest visiting her classes, whom she scheduled at the beginning of the school year.

“We’re studying about the Catholic reformation so Father Malley has agreed to speak on the Council of Trent,” said Miliziano.

Along with her word, the school board has also backed Miliziano up publicly, according to a Tampa Bay Times report.

“Our kids need to understand a lot of different perspectives. They’re going to have to deal with everybody in the world, and they can’t just be afraid of them because they don’t know them,” said Candy Olson, chairwoman of the school board.

Whatever the case, Miliziano doesn’t regret her decision.

“I want a guest speaker during these few weeks we study Islam. (Next year) I would invite whoever is able to come.”

Brandon Mauriello / News Editor

8 thoughts on “Muslim appearence results in wave of confusion, anger

  1. Jake B,
    nope, not really. the rest can wait til next year when i am the one writing on the actual site with you guys. until then, i will just find another thing to write about.

  2. Dear oracle staff,
    I am so excited and happy that you have allowed me to join the oracle. Anyways, to response to this article, I have a number of things to say, some harsh, some relaxed. For starters, once again people in America show off their great personality when it comes to ignorance. It seems to me that some Americans will not admit to change and that this country is constantly and greatly advancing in its diversity of culture and ethnicity. Whether you accept it or not, everyone should receive the same rights, whether you are black or white, yellow or green, or Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. I am very happy to see that the Hillsborough school board has not made another mistake towards the rights fairness of the people of this area. Just because the decade has shown that Muslims are to blame for this countries demise, does not show nor prove that all Muslims flew planes into the sides of a building. Secondly, I myself know for a fact that people can learn better with an actual speaker and not just from a boring text book. To try and silence a race or culture when it comes to teaching our generation, the future leaders of America, that all Muslims are bad, that Hitler was right to persecute the Jews, and that Christians belong on top and are perfect is absurd and out of the question. To me, a major problem in this society, and a flaw in our minds/generation feel that it is the parent’s right to teach and pas on their ways and feelings about the world. They do have the right, but we should hope that they should be morally and ethically correct to not commit such a crime like this. The equality of a man’s rights is not decided by the color of their skin, nor the way they speak, or dress, or what they do/practice, it is the way they act as a normal human being who just have their own opinion that may be different than others. Because one ignorant parent does not want change to come and for a Muslim speaker to enrich and teach great and vital knowledge to a student that is part of a super power country of the world is out of the question and just plain stupid. Because this vital knowledge will someday be important to everyone. For a class like world history or world religions or any social class, it is a right to the student s to see what the real world is like outside of our great life and homes. If you don’t want to face the facts, no one is forcing anyone to take a certain class, nor attend a great school better than half the world, then don’t come to school or come to that class. Don’t ruin a great opportunity for 20000 children for the sake of one ignorant parent and his or her child.

  3. I’m extremely glad to hear of the school board’s positive reaction to Miliziano’s guest speaker. Does the government not fund education in order to prevent widespread ignorance? I’m not sure how it makes sense to keep students in the dark about a different culture, coming from the perspective of a member OR a director of an organization with ties to said culture. I took Miliziano’s class two years ago and loved hearing about Islam from her guest speaker. My guess is that the concerned parent most likely fosters a fair amount of ignorance regarding the topic of Islam, and it truly is a shame that said parent(s) wish(es) to pass this ignorance along.

  4. Interesting article about the flack over Hassan Shibly.
    Having spent several weeks in a Muslim country and spoken with non-Muslims there who have few rights, I definitely understand the concern some people might have about bringing the director (not just member, as you identified him) of the Council on American Islamic Relations in to speak to impressionable high schoolers.
    But the reason I’m writing this letter is to let you know that David Caton is not a politician, as you identified him in the article. He’s executive director of the Florida Family Association.
    Janice Short

  5. “one of her student’s parents called the school to complain”

    Freedom of speech must mean nothing to this parent. The school is a religious brainwashing facility.

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