“A T-shirt, a Muslim and a Handful of Eleven-year-olds” : Samar 27

An intense anti-Arab media campaign against the Khalil Gibran International Academy ends with a high-tech lynching.

November 12th, 2007

By Bushra Rehman

When a t-shirt is someone’s sole form of political protest, the immigrant in me thinks they’re just being lazy. However, with the recent events surrounding the Khalil Gibran International Academy in Brooklyn, NY, I am beginning to feel t-shirts might have political power, at least when they are worn by young Arab girls.

The NY Post, that Beautiful Map of Freedom and Oppression

In August, a few weeks before the opening of the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), Debbie Almontaser, the school’s principal and founding member, was interviewed by the New York Post. KGIA is New York City’s first middle school to teach Arab language and culture in addition to the city’s standard curriculum. The concept is not new. There are a number of dual-language schools in New York City.

[T]he behavior of NYC officials, Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Joseph Klein and United Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten was disturbing.

Due to an intense anti-Arab media campaign against the school, one that has been fueled by Stop the Madrassa, Militant Islam Monitor, the New York Sun, Fox News, and of course, the Post, the Department of Education asked the paper’s reporter, Charles Bennet to submit his questions beforehand. At the end of the interview, Bennet proposed an unsubmitted question. He asked Almontaser to define the word “intifada.”

Choosing to take the role of an educator, rather than a politician, Almontaser opened up a dictionary and defined the word using its literal meaning: “a shaking off.” Read more…

Bushra Rehman is an Oakland, CA, based writer and poet. She is co-editor of “Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism” and her work can be found at http://www.bushrarehman.com.

 

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