Debbie Almontaser stands against division, intimidation and hatred

By Seth Freed Wessler Oct 16, 2007

At 5pm on Tuesday Debbie Almontaser appeared on the New York City Hall steps with grace and courage as she responded publicly for the first time since she was victim to a torrent of anti-Arab/Muslim racism. Almontaser, who was the founding principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, an Arabic language charter school in New York City, was forced to resign after an ensemble of right wing and extreme Zionist pundits, politicians, and newspapers defamed her, accusing her and her school of fostering terrorism. Today she told reporters and onlookers that she will reapply for the position as principal of the school. “I will continue to stand against division, intimidation and hatred,” she said, “I will stand for a society based on mutual respect and understanding and dignity for all our communities. These are values to which I have devoted my entire adult life and career.” Almontaser continued, making clear that the attacks she has faced are part of a larger picture of racism toward Arabs and Muslims. “While I have been the victim of a serious injustice,” she said, “the far larger offense has been to the Arab and Muslim communities of New York City. In the years since 9/11, our communities have been the object of the most vile and hateful attacks. The attacks on me are part of a larger campaign to intimidate and silence marginalized communities.” Almontaser has refused to be silenced in the face of attack. Here are Debbie Almontaser’s powerful words.