BLAINE, Minn. (WCCO) — Some parents in the Anoka-Hennepin School District are questioning a choir teacher’s decision to use a song about Ramadan performed in Arabic at a holiday concert.
At Thursday night’s concert at Blaine High School, one of the songs students will be singing includes Arabic words, including the phrase “Allahu Akbar,” which means “God is great.”
Christian and Jewish songs will be performed as well, but the Ramadan song is getting all the attention.
It started with a post on Facebook. A parent of a ninth-grade Blaine choir student posted the lyrics to the song the choir has been practicing. When others learned students would be singing the song on Thursday, the comments took a turn.
One person posted, “No child should be forced to sing a song about the Muslims and the religion of hatred.”
Another parent, who didn’t want to be identified, told WCCO phone that considering the recent events in Paris and San Bernardino, singing a song about Allah would be “insensitive.”
The Anoka- Hennepin School District said they have received about a dozen complaints about the song. Some are from parents, some are from people not even affiliated with the school.
In a statement, the district said that they have students from many different backgrounds and cultures, and they promote equal opportunities for all students.
“Songs are not performed in a worship setting or to promote religion,” the district’s statement said. “but rather in [an] educational setting where students are learning and performing music.”
A spokesman for the district said the Arabic song will be sung during an audience participation portion of the concert.
During that time, a Jewish song and Christian songs, such as “Away in the Manger” and “Silent Night,” will be sung as well. A hallelujah chorus will also be sung near the end of the program.
While the Ramadan song mentions brotherhood and peace, the district says that any student who doesn’t feel comfortable singing it doesn’t have to. Their grade will not be affected.