US schools closed on Friday (local time) after parents were in uproar over a classroom assignment asking students to write Arabic calligraphy using a Muslim statement of faith.
The assignment asked students from Riverheads High School in Virginia county to try and write the Islamic statement of faith, shahada, in Arabic to give them “an idea of the artistic complexity of calligraphy”.
It was part of a Middle East study, which officials with the Augusta County school district made clear was part of geography lessons, and the study of a region’s religion.
Numerous calls, emails and threats from outside the district prompted the Augusta County Public Schools to close down due to an “abundance of caution”, according to BBC. There were no specific safety threats.
Backlash against the study built up and the school doors were locked and monitored by Wednesday. By Friday the decision was made to close the school.
The messages were described as profane and hateful, and some parents accused the teacher of indoctrination, BBC reports.
Officials said the lessons were not meant to promote any religious system.
They say future classes will use a different, non-religious Arabic.