Arabic reading of Pledge of Allegiance ignites ire at New York school

By Amy R. Connolly  |  March 21, 2015 at 9:58 AM
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PINE BUSH, N.Y., March 21 (UPI) -- Pine Bush High School administrators apologized after the Pledge of Allegiance was read in Arabic during the morning announcements in the upstate New York school.

Students told the Times Herald-Record the announcement was met with catcalls and anger, polarizing the student body. After the announcement, students scrawled messages on their cars, saying "We live in America. Speak English." Others voiced their opinions on Twitter, calling the message brave and hopeful. The school is located about 75 miles north of New York City and is the only high school in the school district.

School Superintendent Joan Carbone said the effort to celebrate national Foreign Language Week has "divided the school in half." The school issued an apology in the aftermath.

"The intention was to promote the fact that those who speak a language other than English still pledge to salute this great country," the school wrote on its website. "We sincerely apologize to any students, staff or community members who found this activity disrespectful. In our school district the Pledge of Allegiance will only be recited in English as recommended by the Commissioner of Education."

Andrew Zinc, the elected student body president, said he made the decision to allow another student to read the 31-word pledge.

"I was expecting outrage from the student body ... I wasn't expecting it to get this big," he told the New York Daily News. "The point of reading it in another language is that it doesn't matter what language you speak. America is defined by what you believe, not what you speak or how you look. I wanted everyone to see this so we could see that deep cultural divide."

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