New York School of Arab Culture Draws Flak

April 18, 2007

Source: Electric News,4136,127899,00.html

THE new school has yet to enrol a single student. But its very existence is at the heart of a controversy in New York.

The Khalil Gibran International Academy was set up to teach students about Arab language and culture.

The school is only expected to open in September, but has already been called 'Jihadi' and 'segregationist'.

One opponent, 72-year-old Lorna Salzman, said: 'It's hard not to believe that this is in some way a political statement.'

Ms. Debbie Almontaser, 39, the teacher who will lead the school, has done extensive interfaith and cultural work to fight stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims since 9-11. She says the school is needed more than ever.

'It is a school that is going to be working quite hard in building bridges of understanding, tolerance and acceptance, valuing diversity and truly just developing students into global citizens,' she said.