Claim:   A New York high school has forced students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic


MIXTURE:







FALSE: A New York high school has implemented a requirement that students recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic.
 
TRUE: As part of an observation of Foreign Language Week, Pine Bush High School included an Arabic reading of the Pledge of Allegiance in one day’s morning announcements.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, March 2015]


NY High School Makes Kids Recite Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic Featuring “One Nation Under Allah.” Looking to see if this is true or not.

 

Origins:   One of the ways in which Pine Bush High School in New York observed Foreign Language Week in March 2015 was by including readings of the Pledge of Allegiance in various languages as part of each day’s morning announcements. That diplomatic exercise hit a snag on the morning of 18 March 2015 when an Arabic-language version of the pledge was used:



The morning’s regularly scheduled announcements included the Arabic reading of the pledge. According to students, the announcement was greeted by catcalls and angry denunciations in classrooms throughout the school by students who felt the reading was inappropriate.

The reading became the subject of angry talk throughout the school and a cascade of tweets both from students who criticized the reading and those who supported it.


Although it is true that an Arabic-language version of the Pledge of Allegiance was included in Pine Bush High School morning announcements during Foreign Language Week, subsequent reports have exaggerated some of the details of that occurence. Top Right News, for instance, reported that students were “forced to recite” the Pledge in Arabic and to use the phrase “one nation under Allah.” But as the Times Herald Record pointed out, foreign language versions of the Pledge of Allegiance were read over the school’s public address system; students did not (and were not forced to) recite those versions themselves.

It should also be noted that this situation is not a recurring event at Pine Bush High School. While the New York school was planning on offering recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance in several foreign languages throughout the week, administrators released a statement on 19 March 2015 saying that the pledge would henceforth only be offered in English from now on due to the backlash over the Arabic-language version:



To honor National Foreign Language week and in an effort to celebrate the many races, cultures and religions that make up this great country and our school district, the foreign language department planned many activities, including reading the Pledge of Allegiance and morning announcements in different languages this week.

The intention was to promote the fact that those who speak a language other than English still pledge to salute this great country. 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.


The controversy at Pine Bush High School echoes a similar incident that occurred in Colorado in 2013 when the Cultural Arms Club at a Fort Collins school utilized an Arabic-language version of the pledge. While the Cultural Arms Club recited the Pledge of Allegiance in a number of different languages without comment, the practice suddenly became newsworthy after a Arabic-language version of the pledge was used.

Last updated:   20 March 2015


Sources:




    Horrigan, J.   “Arabic Version of Pledge of Allegiance at Pine Bush High School Ignites Furor.”

    Times Herald-Record [Middletown, NY].   18 March 2015.