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At Concord-Carlisle High a Muslim poem is read for 9/11, the Pledge of Allegiance is not

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  September 12, 2013 02:10 PM

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The principal of Concord Carlisle High School is apologizing to parents about the school’s opening ceremony on Wednesday - the 12th anniversary of 9/11 - in which a Muslim poem was recited over the intercom but the Pledge of Allegiance was not.

Principal Peter Badalament said in a statement to parents that the poem was meant to promote "cross-cultural understanding," and that the Pledge of Allegiance was not read because of a mixup with the student reader.

The combination of the two has "outraged a small number of members of our community," Badalament said in an email to the Globe, noting that the school has received a handful of calls and about 10 emails from unhappy parents.

"Yesterday was the first Wednesday of the school year; we were unaware that our student Pledge reader had an internship commitment on this day," Badalament said in the statement.. "This was our responsibility to know. We humbly apologize that this oversight and communication gap occurred."

Badalament said officials were only thinking of the well-being of their students when they chose to read the poem, Mohja Kahf's "My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears." The poem recounts a granddaughter's account of watching her grandmother adhere to the religious Muslim custom of washing her feet five times a day, though it puts the pair in an awkward situation at an American department store.

Kahf writes in a section of the poem:

Respectable Sears matrons shake their heads and frown
as they notice what my grandmother is doing,
an affront to American porcelain,
a contamination of American Standards
by something foreign and unhygienic
requiring civic action and possible use of disinfectant spray
They fluster about and flutter their hands and I can see
a clash of civilizations brewing in the Sears bathroom

Badalament said the district will "integrate the feedback that has been offered into our future work with students."

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Follow Jaclyn Reiss on Twitter: @jaclynreiss

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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