Friday, April 17, 2015

Islamophobia in the USA: The Case of The Arabic Language

arabic alphabet

Islamophobia is rubbish.  What we have is a human reaction to awful Islamic actions that are promoted as the road to force your submission to Allah.  Try walking down the street waving a swastika.  This will earn the same reaction for the exact same reasons.  Quite bluntly, it you choose to associate with dogs or even condone dogs you will be likely treated as a dog.

Reading a sacred national text in translation is always done respectively with permission and with explanation.  In that way it can be treated respectively.  Otherwise it can be construed as a provocation.  Try reading the Koran in plain English today on a street corner..

Islam will fail to win respect anywhere until their spokesmen vigorously oppose fanaticism of all kinds and move actively against the problem.  Otherwise they choose to run with dogs.

The USA is not multicultural at all.  It has not gone there yet and it is unlikely to do so.  They want clearly loyal Americans.  Those playing against this will sooner or later trigger a real backlash and it will not be pretty.

As in Canada, there is a dominant culture and it demands respect.  In exchange it accommodates all.  That is miles from submission.

Islamophobia in the USA: The Case of The Arabic Language 

Global Research, March 31, 2015

On March 18, a student in Pine Bush High School near New York City recited the American Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic. This was done as part of the schools Foreign Language Week, which was conducted to celebrate the many races, cultures and religions that make up [the US and the Pine Bush] School District.

One would expect the multicultural and cosmopolitan American society to appreciate such gestures. However, the reactions to the recitation of the Pledge in Arabic spoke otherwise: the language in itself was described to be meant for terrorists, and associated with Islam. Such bigotry once again highlighted everything that is wrong with USA: xenophobia, racism, ignorance, violence and above all, Islamophobia.

The Controversy

Pine Bush is a small town located roughly 85 miles from New York City. It is predominantly white, with Arab and/or Muslim-American populations being negligible. 

The Foreign Language Week was an attempt undertaken by Pine Bush High School to foster cultural integration and interaction. It was an occasion to celebrate the multiple tongues, cultures and events that make up the human civilization in total. 

Sadly, this praiseworthy teaching exercise received nothing but criticism from the American nation. One student claimed, The Pledge should always be said in English. 

Also, certain parents were offended because they had family members killed in Afghanistan. Apparently, they overlooked two basic things:

Arabic, as a language, did not kill any of their family members. 

Arabic, as a language, hardly has any proper speakers in Afghanistan. 

On any given day, such opposition to Arabic would sound ridiculous. However, a good portion of the American media as well as political outfits described the recitation of the Pledge in Arabic as a threat to USA, thereby incorrectly viewing Arabic as the language of terrorism, spoken by enemies of freedom. The Clash of Civilizations rhetoric was propagated once again: Arabic, much like every other Asian language, is theirs, not ours. 

However, even more unfortunate was the fact that instead of ignoring such baseless talks, the Principal of Pine Bush High School decided to apologize for the recital. Will not this apology convey to the students a wrong idea that reciting the Pledge in Arabic was indeed an unpatriotic and unlawful act?

Is the USA Really Multicultural?

The Pine Bush controversy once again sparked discussions about the old question: is USA truly multicultural? Have the Americans actually embraced the pluralism that exists within their country, or is xenophobia and racism the norm in their society? 

Furthermore, this controversy did not occur in isolation. Recently, New York City decided to observe some Muslim holidays as well, and the responses to this decision too were a mixed bag.

The opposition to the Pledge in Arabic shows one key point: in spite of its multicultural nature, America does view garments, languages and probably even cuisines as not merely cultural symbols, but signs of religious, ethnic and racial identities. Arabic was just one side of the coin: Chinese, Japanese, Russian and even Spanish would be considered foreign. On the other hand, languages such as Italian or French would not have stirred such a big controversy.


Because no matter what you say, racism is selective and biased. Arabic and Chinese are foreign because anything related to the Orient is suspicious for the American masses. Russian is foreign because Russia in itself is suspicious for Americans. Spanish is foreign (even though a good number of Americans speak Spanish as their first language) because of deep-rooted racism and xenophobia in the American society. 

This is precisely why the recital of the Pledge in Arabic led to nationwide hysteria and outrage. A sense of hostility is deep-rooted in the American system: Afghanistan, a country that does not speak Arabic, can be blamed for Arabic, if need be. Islamophobia is on the rise in USA, and the Pine Bush incident only affirms this fact. As such, NYCs decision to acknowledge Islamic holidays, as good as it might sound, will still continue to be overshadowed by such Islamophobic and ignorant gestures.

Sufyan bin Uzayr writes for several print and online publications, and regularly blogs about issues of contemporary relevance at Political Periscope ( You can connect with him using Facebook ( or Google+ ( SufyanbinUzayr?rel=author ) or email him at [email protected]

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