A California high school's decades-long use of an Arab as a mascot for its sports teams has drawn the ire of an Arab-American rights group, which says the caricature portrays Arabs as bearded, large-nosed individuals who cover their heads.
CNN reported that the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee has issued a press release, calling for the Coachella Valley High School to change its team name from the “Arabs” as well as the mascot itself.
"It's a very stereotypical logo of Arabs, it has the angry-looking Arab with the hook nose and the beard," said Abed Ayoub, the group’s director of legal and policy affairs.
The controversy surrounding the Arab mascot comes soon after a campaign was launched earlier this year to pressure the National Football League's Washington Redskins into changing their name. American Indians and others have long felt that the Redskins moniker is racist.
In its letter, the Anti-Discrimination Committee described YouTube videos of half-time shows at the Coachella Valley High School sporting events. The organization pointed out that the Arab mascot makes ing an appearance while "a female dressed as a belly dancer entertains him."
Ayoub said he understands that the school, which opened in 1910 and is located in the arid Coachella Valley town of Thermal, 125 miles southeast of Los Angeles, originally used the Arab mascot as a nod to the region's date-growing industry. The date palm is commonly associated with the Middle East.
"There is an appropriate way to recognize the ties with Arabs and the Arab community, but this was not it," Ayoub said.
Coachella Valley Unified School District Superintendent Darryl Adams is due to discuss the issue with the local school board later this month.
What do you have to say about the Angry Arab Mascot and his belly dancing cheerleaders? Let us know with your comments.
Read the ADC’s entire letter over here.