A group of students at a high school in Fort Collins, Colo. recited the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic on Monday over the school’s intercom, reports local NBC affiliate KUSA-TV.
The principal at Rocky Mountain High School, Tom Lopez, is standing by his decision to allow the unique rendition of the traditional expression of patriotism that millions of Americans know by heart.
This year, a Rocky Mountain High student group asked Lopez if he would allow them to translate and recite the pledge in various languages.
“We do say the Pledge of Allegiance on Mondays at Rocky Mountain High School,” Lopez told KUSA. “They had to go through me for approval, and I reviewed it pretty carefully.”
The maiden translation was into French, which perhaps makes some sense because France secretly helped supply the leaders of the American Revolution with troops and equipment.
Last fall, the student group recited the pledge in Spanish. The United States is home to several million immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries. Latinos account for about 20 percent of all residents in Colorado.
On Monday, the group of students delivered the pledge in Arabic.
“We have a tremendous amount of diversity in our school,” Principal Lopez told KUSA. “This is very American, not un-American.”
“When they pledge allegiance to United States, that’s exactly what they’re saying,” he added. “They’re just using another language as their vehicle.”
Community response to the recitation of the Pledge in Arabic and the other two foreign tongues has been generally positive, Lopez told the station. Not everyone is supportive, though. Some outraged parents have called and emailed the school expressing strong condemnation of the practice.
“I guess I’m getting worn down a little bit by how intense their sense of hate has been represented in some of the things they’ve written and said,” Lopez told KUSA on Tuesday.
Lopez also told the NBC station that he has no plans to back down. He suggested that the student group will likely be given the opportunity to translate the pledge into other languages.
He did concede, however, that it’s not a bad idea for students to repeat the pledge in English that day.