Blaine High School in Blaine, Minnesota, became the center of controversy this week after parents complained that a song about Ramadan, containing the Arabic phrase “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”), would be included in the school’s holiday concert, WCCO (Minneapolis) is reporting.
The controversy began when a parent posted a photo on Facebook showing the lyrics to the song “Eid-un Sa’Eid” by Zain Bhikha, a tune that parent’s daughter was expected to sing at the school’s holiday concert on Thursday night. The song celebrates the end of Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims where they are expected to fast during the day. Since Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar, its dates are not fixed on the Western calendar (like, for example, Christmas is always on December 25). Ramadan 2015 began on June 17 and ended on July 17.
The lyrics to the song include verses praising Allah, the god of Islam.
“All over the world
Under the big-blue sky
Muslims unite to worship Allah
It’s a time of brotherhood, a time of peace
Muslims are singing praises to Allah
Almost immediately, the Facebook post generated heated complaints about the song choice.
“No child should be forced to sing a song about the Muslims and the religion of hatred.”
Another parent, who asked not to be identified when speaking to a WCCO reporter, said that including a song about Islam and Allah, in light of deadly terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino (both carried out by radicalized Islamist terrorists), would be “insensitive.”
In a statement, Hennepin County Schools noted that any student who did not want to sing the Ramadan song could opt out without that decision affecting their grades. The statement said that the Ramadan song would be performed during an audience participation segment of the holiday concert, which would also include Christian songs (such as “Silent Night”) and Jewish holiday songs.
“Songs are not performed in a worship setting or to promote religion, but rather in [an] educational setting where students are learning and performing music.”
The district’s statement also noted that the district wanted to be inclusive of all cultures and faiths of families in the diverse district.
Since the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people and injured over 300, anti-Islam sentiment in the United States has been alarmingly high, according to the Guardian. Mosques have been vandalized and even set on fire, death threats have been called into Mosques, and individual Muslims – even children – have been singled out for harassment.
In the Atlanta suburbs, for example, a 13-year-old girl wearing a hijab – the traditional head covering worn by Muslim women and girls – was asked by a school teacher if she had a bomb in her backpack.
Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), blamed harsh political rhetoric for the growing anti-Muslim sentiment.
“We are seeing an unprecedented and dramatic increase in anti-Muslim displays and hate crimes, and a level of hysteria in our society. It’s meant to intimidate. It began with the Paris attacks, continued through San Bernardino and now with Donald Trump almost giving permission to bigots to take out their feelings on American Muslims it is reaching a high level.”
Despite complaints about the inclusion of a Ramadan song in the program, Blaine High School’s holiday concert appears to have gone off without a hitch. An unofficial Blaine Facebook page is filled with photos of smiling teenagers giving it their best in posts provided by parents beaming with pride.
As of this writing, it is not clear if Blaine High School’s holiday concert included the planned Ramadan song. No mention of the controversy is made on the school’s social media accounts, and school officials have not returned phone calls for comment.
[Image via Shutterstock/1000 Words]