"A madrassa grows in Brooklyn"

When I was in New York last year, I heard about a new middle school that was going to open in Brooklyn and offer classes in Arabic. The Khalil Gibran school was going to be the first American public school to have "Arabic language and culture" as part of its curriculum. I'm pretty sure a few of my colleagues at NYU looked into possible teaching there. Good thing they didn't, because apparently, this public New York high school is actually going to be a radical madrasa!This has been discovered thanks to the efforts of the usual band of credible organizations: a group calling itslef the "Stop the Madrassa Community Coalition," Daniel Pipes (whose recent column provided me with the hilarious title of this post), Militant Islam Monitor, and the New York Sun. As the New York Times reports:
Alicia Colon, a columnist for The New York Sun, wrote that Osama bin Laden must have been “delighted� to hear the news of the school. “New York City, the site of the worst terrorist attack in our history, is bowing down in homage to accommodate and perhaps groom future radicals,� she said. “I say break out the torches and surround City Hall to stop this monstrosity.�
Then Fox decided to cover the story, with predictable results.No matter that the school is open to students from all backgrounds, and that it will teach the standard state curriculum. Its principle Debbie Almontaser, a Muslim woman long involved in inter-faith efforts, apparently has an "Islamist agenda." And no mattter that almost everyone in the US government agrees we are in dire need of more Arabic speakers--apparently it's OK to promote Americans speaking Arabic; but Arabs (Arab-Americans are still Arabs) speaking Arabic on U.S. soil can clearly be up to no good.All this I understand perfectly; what I can't figure out is why the New York Times calls Daniel Pipes "the director of the Middle East Forum, a conservative research center that says its goal is to promote American interests in the region." I don't expect the Times to tell the truth (the Middle East Forum's agenda is to smear real academics, spread racism against Arabs and Muslims, and blindly support Israe). But surely they could get a bit closer.

Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.