Fort Collins, CO – Students from a multicultural group are facing controversy for their decision to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic over their school’s intercom.
The principal of Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, Colorado, stands by his decision to allow the group to recite the Pledge in Arabic, saying: “We have a tremendous amount of diversity in our school. This is very American, not un-American.”
“We do say the Pledge of Allegiance on Mondays at Rocky Mountain High School,” principal Tom Lopez said. While students have always said it in English, a multicultural group of about 30 students approached him with a request to recite the Pledge in different languages, reports 9News. They did it first in French, and in Spanish last fall. On Monday, they recited the Pledge in Arabic.
“They had to go through me for approval, and I reviewed it pretty carefully,” Lopez said.
Fox31 Denver reports that the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic has been received positively, though some upset parents have had very negative reactions.
“I guess I’m getting worn down a little bit by how intense their sense of hate has been represented in some of the things they’ve written and said,” Lopez recalled of some of the calls and emails he has received.
But some residents don’t see any value in altering the Pledge, and say that their arguments are not rooted in bigotry.
“As a veteran and a friend of a man killed defending these children in their little games they like to play with our pledge, I’m offended,” wrote resident Chris Wells. “There are things that we don’t mess with – among them are the pledge and our anthem.”
To Lopez, and the group of students, it doesn’t matter what language you say it in, because the Pledge is still the Pledge.
“When they pledge allegiance to United States, that’s exactly what they’re saying — they’re just using another language as their vehicle,” Lopez said.
But the use of the word “Allah” in the Arabic Pledge has some taking offense, thinking that it means their children are pledging allegiance to an Islamic version of the US. One expert says this is not so.
“Obviously in Arabic, you would use the word Allah, but Christian Arabs would use the word Allah,” said Ibrahim Hooper, of the Council on American Islamic Relations. “It’s not necessarily specific to Islam and Muslims.”
But those in defense of the choice to say the Pledge in Arabic say the decision was not meant to make a divisive political point. “It’s not just Arabic,” said Danielle Clark, communications director of the Poudre School District.
“This is a student-initiated and student-led club,” Clark said. “There is no school sponsor or advisor. It doesn’t come under the umbrella of the district.”
“These students love this country,” he said. “They were not being un-American in trying to do this. They believed they were accentuating the meaning of the words as spoken regularly in English.”
What do you think? Is the decision to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic offensive?