Members of a student club at a Colorado high school have sparked widespread outrage after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic.
Members of the Cultural Arms Club (CAC) at Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, whose motto is "destroy the barriers, embrace the cultures," decided to recite the pledge in Arabic, replacing the words "one nation under God" with "one nation under Allah."
That didn't sit very well with many Americans, especially once Fox News caught wind of the story. Principal Tom Lopez told Fox he's received a barrage of angry e-mails and phone calls from upset parents. Lopez said he's getting "worn down" by the outrage and "hate" from the naysayers. He's even been called a traitor and accused of "pushing a Muslim Brotherhood agenda to push Islam into the school," he said.
"I've been shocked with prejudicial statements that have been made," Lopez continued. "I've been shocked with the lack of seeking understanding. There's definitely fear and suspicion expressed in these people's minds. There's some hate."
"They claim they are outraged that this is blaspheming a real major tenet of our patriotism-- which in their mind the Pledge of Allegiance is only in English," he said of his critics.
But the students who recited the pledge in Arabic strongly deny there's anything un-American about what they did.
"No matter what language it's said in, pledging your allegiance to the United States is the same in every language," sophomore CAC member Skyler Bowden told 9 News.
Supporters point out that Arab Christians use the word "Allah" when speaking of the same God that any other Christian worships.
"[Allah] is not necessarily specific to Islam and Muslims," Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) told Fox News.
"How on earth is it un-American to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in another language," Hooper asked. "It doesn't make sense unless the people complaining are anti-Muslim or anti-Middle Eastern bigots."
Still, some locals openly expressed their disapproval of the students' translation.
"As a veteran and a friend of a man killed defending these children in their little games they like to play with our pledge, I'm offended," Chris Wells told the Daily Coloradoan. "There are things that we don't mess with-- among them are the pledge and our anthem."
But the Pledge of Allegiance has been "messed with"-- the words "under God" were only added in 1954.
The Rocky Mountain High CAC is no stranger to controversy. The club raised eyebrows and ire last year when it recited the Pledge of Allegiance over the school's public address system in Spanish and French. They also plan on doing the same in sign language, Korean and possibly even Chinese.
"When they pledge allegiance to the United States, that's exactly what they're saying," Principal Lopez told CAIR TV. "They're just using another language as their vehicle."