Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic Draws Backlash Against NY High School
Parents in upstate New York are demanding answers after the Pledge of Allegiance was recited in Arabic.
The senior class president at Pine Bush High School read the pledge in Arabic over the public address system as part of National Foreign Language Week.
Upon hearing the pledge begin with the words "one nation under Allah," some students began yelling, while others simply refused to stand up.
One boy who refused to stand said that a teacher told him he was being "disrespectful."
"I said that they should speak it in English," he said.
The school district issued a statement, saying the Arabic pledge was meant to "promote the fact that those who speak a language other than English still pledge a salute to this great country."
The pledge was recited in other languages previously during the week. The district apologized to anyone who may have found it "disrespectful," adding that the pledge is only going to be recited in English in the school district.
The student body president, Andrew Zink, said he knew the pledge would trigger a backlash, but believes it was the "right thing to do."
“To everyone who disagrees with my decisions, I respect your right to do so and hope we can have a productive conversation,” he wrote on Twitter.
Among the critics of the decision were locals who lost loved ones in the Afghanistan war.
It's not the first time an Arabic pledge has made headlines. The same thing happened at a high school in Fort Collins, Colorado two years ago.
Elisabeth Hasselbeck discussed the pledge this morning with Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, author and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.
Jasser said it's important to realize that the United States is at war against ISIS and against radical Islam.
"Imagine, Elisabeth, if in World War II, if we had decided to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in German. We weren’t fighting all Germans, but we were at a war against evil German nationalists and that would’ve struck a nerve in America that would have been absurd," he said.
Jasser said he loves the Arabic language and supports schools highlighting Arab culture, but believes that the Pledge of Allegiance is not the best way to do that.
"I think most American-Muslims and Arabs, especially, would be outraged and say, hold on a sec, multiculturalism is one thing, but the pledge is in English," said Jasser.
Watch the full report above.
We heard a lively debate on "Outnumbered" this afternoon on whether the school should have done this.
Kirsten Powers strongly disagreed with tying the Arabic language to Islam and to terror, noting that there are many Christians who speak Arabic.
"It's sad that people tie that language to terrorism," said Powers, adding that anyone can pledge their allegiance to America in any language.
She said the school's decision to say the pledge in Arabic was "more than fine."
Judge Alex Ferrer pointed back to Jasser's comparison about Germany and World War II. Ainsley Earhardt noted that the U.S. is at war with ISIS, who screams "Allahu Akbar."
"That's not comparable," Powers countered, arguing that "we're not at war with Muslims or Arabic people."
Watch the debate below.