The Stop the Madrassa Community Coalition wholeheartedly supports the study of Arabic and in fact we support efforts to increase the number of U.S. citizens learning Arabic, Farsi and Urdu, particularly for national security purposes. However many of the universities and teacher training programs for Arabic are dominated by people who are not just Arabs (from the many different cultures that are Arabic), and not just Muslims, but Islamists – extremist in their politics and conviction of the superiority of Islamic sharia law over other religions, legal systems and political systems.
Therefore, students in K-12 grades or community colleges or universities who want to study Arabic are at risk of having to study not just the Arabic language, and the many diverse cultures of Arabic nations and traditions (there is no single “Arabic” culture) but also Islamic culture, and that from an Islamist perspective. This is ironic of course, because the majority of Arabs in the U.S. are Christian, not Muslim, and the majority of Muslims may be intimidated into passivity by Islamists, but they are not Islamist themselves.
What then is to be done? We may want to learn Arabic, and to have our children learn it, for patriotic reasons first – to defend the country as a soldier, to help in diplomacy but never appeasement, to reach out to apostates and reform Muslims under siege by extremist Islamists in the U.S. and abroad, to help Arabic Christians and Sephardic Jews who are persecuted in their nations or as refugees. But who would want their child to study Arabic if it is infused with the kinds of hate speech, religious indoctrination and political propaganda we know goes on in private Islamist academies and preaching to children and young people in so many mosques in America? See for example this 2006 Freedom House study on “Saudi Arabian Curricula of Intolerance: Saudi Ministry of Education Textbooks for Islamic Studies
So we do not have a single answer to the question of teaching Arabic to K-12 grades, or even a preferred curricula. What we can do, however, is to provide some documents to generate discussion and then, as we move forward, develop a better understanding of the issues in learning Arabic. And what we know is this: that we can take back the study of a language – Arabic – that we and our children need to protect ourselves from the political ideology of extreme Islamism. We can take back the study of a language – Arabic – that is used worldwide by Christian Arabs and liberal Muslim reformers who are our allies in any resistance to extreme Islamism. We do not have to leave learning Arabic to schools like KGIA, which could not find any secular Arabs in all of New York City and had to select three imams for the Board of Advisors; which has a principal who chooses to sit on boards with Sharia officials and accepts awards from Islamist groups; which stonewalls the public and fecklessly damages the reputations of elected officials, by forcing them not to disclose the school’s curricula or textbooks.
Materials on Teaching Arabic – NCLRC
National Capital Language Resource Center, Arabic K12 project.
March 2005 newsletter, NCLRC Arabic k12 Project