May 4, 2023
Arabic calligraphy

(ANAHEIM, CA – 5/4/2023) – The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today welcomed the Anaheim Union High School District (AUHSD)’s decision to continue offering the Arabic World Language program at Western High School for another year as part of its commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion in the community.  

SEE: What’s the Future of Orange County’s First Arabic Public School Program?  

AUHSD considered cutting the Arabic World Language program due to district-wide budget cuts and low enrollment over the last three years. However, with the aid of Qatar Foundation International (QFI), which agreed to pay for half of the Arabic program costs, AUHSD has committed to providing the other half of the funds needed to keep the program going for another year.  

The extension of the Arabic World language program will provide both the district and community organizations with additional time to promote it, boost enrollment, and give it a chance to succeed.   

On May 3, 2023, CAIR-LA and the Arab American Civic Council (AACC) met with AUHSD Superintendent Michael Matsuda to discuss the decision.  

In a statement, CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said:  

“We applaud the Anaheim Union High School District for its commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion in the community through the continuation of the Arabic World Language program at Western High School. This decision has implications beyond the classroom, as it sends a message of inclusion and acceptance to members of the Arab American community of Anaheim, who have long felt marginalized, ignored, and invisible.   

“By investing in cultural and linguistic diversity, the district is not only enriching the educational experience of its students, but also creating a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of the community. We are grateful for the district’s dedication to promoting understanding and respect for all cultures and appreciate Qatar Foundation International’s generous support.”  

In a statement, AUHSD Superintendent Michael Matsuda said:  

“We are committed to providing opportunities for our students to learn and experience different languages and cultures, and the continuation of the Arabic World Language program is a testament to that commitment.  

“We are grateful to Qatar Foundation International for their generous support, and we look forward to working with our community partners to ensure that the Arabic program continues to thrive.”  

In a statement, AACC Executive Director Rashad Al-Dabbagh said: 
“We are grateful that the Anaheim Union High School District, under the leadership of Superintendent Matsuda, was able to partner with Qatar Foundation International to save the only Arabic language program in Orange County public schools. Cutting the Arabic language program would have harmed many students who benefit from learning Arabic at Western High School located in the city of Anaheim, which is home to the nation’s only officially designated Little Arabia.” 

CAIR-LA helped raise the seed money to launch the program in 2018, recognizing the importance of Arabic in the community, with many Anaheim residents speaking Arabic as their first language. However, despite the high demand for Arabic classes, many students and their families were not aware the program existed. Therefore, the district and community organizations will work together to promote the Arabic program and encourage more students to enroll.  

The Arabic World Language program at Western High School is an important landmark in promoting diversity and inclusion in the Anaheim community, and AUHSD’s decision to continue it for another year is a significant step towards achieving that goal. 

CAIR-LA is Southern California’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice and empower American Muslims.          

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 CAIR-LA Digital Communications Manager Enjy El-Kadi, (714) 851-4851 or