Daily Mail – Fury is brewing at Rocky Mountain High School, in Colorado, after a multicultural student group were encouraged to recite the Pledge of Allegiance over the loudspeaker in Arabic – replacing ‘one nation under God’ with ‘one nation under Allah’.
Following Monday’s pledge, Principal Tom Lopez has been inundated with complaints from outraged parents concerned that saying the Pledge in any language other than English is unpatriotic.
Standing by his controversial decision, Principal Lopez has said that despite the irate telephone calls and emails, he is not in any way or form trying to push an Islamic agenda at the Fort Collins school.
‘These students love this country,’ said Lopez to Fox News.
‘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.’
At the school, the Pledge of Allegiance is recited once a week and on Monday, a member of the Cultural Arms Club at Rocky Mountain High School read out an Arabic version.
The pupils sought the permission of Principal Lopez, who previously had allowed the Pledge to be read out in French and Spanish.
However, the backlash began from students hours after the recital and has continued through the week as angry parents have waded into the controversy.
‘We understand not everybody would agree with the students’ choice,’ said Danielle Clark, communications director of the Poudre School District to Fox News.
‘We’ve heard there are some who are upset.’
Clark said though, that the club has a history of reading the Pledge in different languages and some parents have emailed to say it ‘was a great thing’.
And she added that the students had asked permission from the principal.
‘We deferred to the students because it’s their deal,’ she said to Fox News.
Students at the school rushed to the classmates defence, keen to highlight the motto of the Cultural Arms Club which seeks to ‘destroy the barriers, embrace the cultures.’
‘No matter what language it’s said in, pledging your allegiance to the United States is the same in every language,’ student Skyler Bowden told The Coloradoan.
The issue for some parents and pupils at the school is that in an Arabic translation of the Pledge of Allegiance, ‘one nation under God’ is replaced with ‘one nation under Allah’.
‘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.’
Principal Lopez has borne the brunt of the criticism of the decision to allow the recital – and some have gone as far as to label him as a traitor.
‘They claim they are outraged that this is blaspheming a real major tenet of our patriotism – which in their mind the Pledge of Allegiance is only in English,’ said Lopez.
Other parents have accused him of ‘pushing a Muslim Brotherhood agenda – to push Islam into the school.’
‘How on earth is it un-American to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in another language,’ said Hooper to Fox News.
‘It doesn’t make sense unless the people complaining are anti-Muslim or anti-middle eastern bigots.’
Indeed, the embattled head is becoming wary at the number of complaints and level of abuse he has received.
‘I’ve been shocked with prejudicial statements that have been made,’ said Lopez.
‘I’ve been shocked with the lack of seeking understanding. There’s definitely suspicion and fear expressed in these people’s minds. There’s some hate.’
Lopez says the school is a place of inclusion where one message can be communicated in many different ways.
‘When they pledge allegiance to United States, that’s exactly what they’re saying,’ Lopez said. ‘They’re just using another language as their vehicle,’ he said.