US Consortium Launches Pen-Pal Program to Boost Understanding of Islamic Culture

Published October 31st, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Three schools in the US communities directly affected by the Sept. 11 attacks will pioneer a program linking US elementary school students and teachers with classes in Egypt, Bahrain and Pakistan, the Christian Science Monitor reported Wednesday, citing a statement last week by President George W. Bush.  

The US schools - Thurgood Marshall Extended Elementary School in Washington, DC; Patrick Henry Elementary School in Arlington, Va.; and Mott Hall School in New York City - have been paired, respectively, with Al Raja Elementary School in Manama, Bahrain; Dawood Public School in Karachi, Pakistan; and Abbass El Akkad Experimental Language School in Cairo, Egypt. 

According to the Monitor, the partnerships are being promoted and facilitated by "Friendship Through Education," a new consortium of government, nongovernmental, and private-sector leaders devoted to facilitating expanded links between US students and students in countries with large Muslim populations, including Egypt, Indonesia, Qatar, Pakistan, Turkey, Bahrain and Afghan refugee camps. 

The organization is encouraging the schools to establish a relationship in two ways: 

• An E-Mail PenPals program that will allow paired students to exchange notes in an effort to better understand each other's countries and cultures. 

• A Laws of Life Project that will invite young people to submit essays describing the rules, ideals and principles by which they live. 

The consortium will also provide information on linking students through letters, art and other collaborative projects. These opportunities will be promoted by a new Friendship Through Education website. 

The US has been trying to woo the Muslim World to support its campaign against terrorism, toiling to convince the angry Muslims that its war against Afghanistan is not targeting Islam or part of a conflict between civilizations. 

Officially, the Arabs and Muslims understand this well. However, according to reports, the more civilian casualties are reported in Afghanistan, the more frustrated and furious their Arab and Muslim brothers become – 

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