Muslim community leaders are hailing the city’s decision to open an Arabic language and culture school in Brooklyn this fall.
“I think it’s very important that people be exposed to the language,” said Abdur-Rahman Farrakhan, the imam at Masjid Al-Jamaiyah in Brownsville. “Not just Muslims, but non-Muslims too.”
The Khalil Gibran International Academy — named for the Lebanese-American poet, philosopher and artist — will educate a diverse student body, and half the classes will be taught in Arabic.
The location of the school has yet to be determined, but the first principal will be Muslim-American leader Debbie Almontaser, who developed the concept for the school and proposed it to the Department of Education.
“I see students who are excited about engaging in international careers, international affairs, wanting to come to our school,” Almontaser told the New York Times. Almontaser immigrated to this country from Yemen when she was 3 and is fluent in Arabic.
“And I also see Arab-American students who would want the opportunity to learn Arabic, to read it and write it and have a better understanding of where their ancestors have come from,” she added.
The Academy, which will receive some funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is one of 40 new small schools to open by this fall. It will ultimately serve 500 to 600 students in grades six through 12.