Parents fume over kids singing Arabic word

Parents fume over kids singing Arabic word
The children will sing the song during a Christmas procession in Modena. Photo: Barlom
The choice of a song that contains a word in Arabic, and which will be sung by children attending a Christmas procession this Friday in Modena, has left parents fuming.

Their anger comes 11 years after Una Stella a Betlemme (A Star in Bethlehem) won first prize at Italy’s prestigious Zecchino d’Oro children’s song festival, when it was sung by a Palestinian child, Milad Fatouleh.

The chorus includes the Arabic word ‘Salam’, which means ‘peace’ as well as being a salutation.

It goes: “Salam…Salam or my city…Salam my reality…Salam.”

But the word brought anything but peace to the parents of children at Collodi school in Modena, who, along with children from other schools in the northern Italian city, will sing the song at a Christmas procession later this week.

“My daughter is obliged to pronounce Arabic words, which I don’t think is right,” a father told Il Fatto Quotidiano.

“She made me listen to the song at home, and there were no references to Christmas in it at all.”

The man insisted he’s not racist, despite accusations from other parents.

“I simply do not like to hear my daughter singing words in Arabic or hearing her say ‘Salam’.”

He also lamented the change of teaching methods in the subject of music.

“When I was young, I played the flute…now it's the bongo drums and other African instruments.”

The same tune was sung last year too, deputy head Beatrice Marongiu said, and without so much as a song and dance from anyone.

She blames the climate of fear towards Islam that has reigned since the Paris attacks in November.

The song may have created divisions, but many parents are delighted with the choice, she added.

One mother said: “We are happy that the children will sing this song. It is just a short verse and this controversy is absurd.”