Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Islamophobia in New Jersey's Foster Care System

In New Jersey, an employee of the state is alleged to have verbally assaulted a Muslim man (and his female dinner partner) in a restaurant, calling him a "terrorist" and an "Osama bin Ladin lover", along with several other xenophobic, racist, and Islamophobic insults. What makes matters even worse is that this state employee was an agent of New Jersey's Division of Youth and Family Services and the person he was assaulting was a parent in one of the cases he is assigned to handle.

The article on NBC's website also mentioned the fact that the state placed Mohamad Khalil's son in a Christian home where he is being raised with "Christian cultural values". The Council for American-Islamic Relations pointed out that this is not an isolated incident and that there are many cases where the state has also done this with other Muslim children.

You know, I don't understand why people feel like they should be allowed to go around converting other people's kids. Even if the state of New Jersey's Division of Youth and Family Services couldn't find enough Muslim foster homes to place all of the Muslim children in their care--and I'm not so sure that if proper effort were put forth, this would be the case--is it really too much to insist that families agree to respect the religious faith of the child and the child's family?

Children can end up in foster care for many different reasons. Being removed from whatever situation they were in before is often overwhelming enough without adding the stress of trying to adapt to a foreign religion, at the same time. Foster parents need to understand that they are simply being entrusted with looking after a child's basic care, not their eternal salvation. If you can't deal with allowing a child to practice their own religion in your home, then you probably shouldn't be a foster care provider.

When the state shows such little regard for the children in its care, is it really any surprise that we see an agent of this same system behaving like this towards a parent who simply wants to raise their child? Yet, we're supposed to believe that these agents of the state really want to keep families intact, whenever possible. Yeah, right!


Carl said...

I hadn't heard this story, and as a resident of New Jersey, I'm ashamed for my state. Thanks for bringing it up.

Trust you are well.


Anonymous said...

I know of this case. I am writing a column about it. There is a face book page under the name of AbdulrahmanKhalil.
This is truly a sad story that needs to be told. A defunct state entity, a racist judge and a powerless and uncommitted community all conspired to force the child into a faith not that of his father's. His name is now Joshua.
Aref Assaf
Star ledger/NJ Voices