This Monday morning, anti-Muslim protesters hoisting American flags took to the sidewalks outside of Houston’s new Arabic Immersion Magnet School. It was like a scene straight out of 1957 Little Rock.
The protesters were greeted by four- and five-year-olds with their brand new backpacks, some of them going to school for the first time ever. For all of them, though, they were attending the first Arabic immersion school in the country. They’ll learn English and social studies in English and math and science in Arabic. To the protesters outside, however, somehow this equated to teaching a religion (Islam, of course), supporting jihadist terrorism, and denouncing American patriotism and culture.
“Everything I ever cared to know about Islam was taught to me by Muslims on 9-11-2001,” one sign read.
“QATAR OUT OF OUR Schools,” read another.
“It would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic,” Mustafaa Carroll, executive director of the Houston chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, told the Houston Press this week. “The school is just trying to teach the students Arabic—it’s just learning a language. And I don’t know why someone would protest that. It really doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to me.”
Carroll sees any opportunity to be exposed to Arabic language and culture as a positive step for the community—especially in a city whose primary industry is oil and energy. According to the Houston Chronicle, the Arabic-speaking population in Houston grew by one-third between 2009 and 2013, up to 23,300 people.
And although many Arabic speakers are not even Muslim, that mattered little to the protesters outside HISD’s immersion school this week. “Any time there’s an Arab anything or a Muslim anything, these folks come out of the woodwork,” Carroll said.
Here are six more times that happened in Texas this year.
6. Third grade teacher spews anti-Muslim hate on right-wing TV show