Friends of Gibran Council

August 28, 2007

The Friends of Gibran Council Asks the New York City Department of
Education To Cease Using Kahlil Gibranís name for the Khalil Gibran
International Academy

New York, NY - The Friends of Gibran Council (FoGC), concerned with the
misuse of the great legacy of Lebanese-American author and poet Kahlil Gibran,
issues the following release.
The proposed Kahlil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), based on information
received to date by the FoGC, would not honor the legacy of a great poet, an
artist who achieved greatness in the US as an emigrant fleeing Lebanon where
his community has been suffering persecution in their ancestral home in Lebanon
at the hands of religious powers.
Gibranís ancestry was Lebanese, Christian and Maronite (Aramaic-Syriac). He
has authored works in English and Arabic. Therefore, the claims of teaching
Arabic under the name of Gibran ring hollow as he is not ethnically Arab although
there are many great Arab poets. Gibran, although a great artist and poet and
fluent in Arabic was not an Arab poet or painter. To analogize in a very basic
manner, Americans speak English but are not English.
The founders of the KGIA could easily change the name of the school to honor a
great Arabic writer or poet, of which there are many, if that is their true intent.
Gibran was a believer in the universality of human rights and the dignity of the
individual. Therefore, the board of trustees of the KGIA should reflect Gibranís
values and ideals. Appointing radicals and Imams who have been associated
with extremist and Jihadist groups is an affront to these ideals.
The teaching of Arabic in public schools is a laudable goal; many more American
students should be proficient in this largely spoken language. However, in no
way should the Arabic language and Islamism be mixed.
The great name of Kahlil Gibran is not owned by anyone. Until recently, no group
or individual has taken advantage of this situation. To allow the KGIA to use his
name now under clearly false pretenses would, in effect, rewrite history and
would do grave harm to the students of NYC.
is a new international organization with chapters in Lebanon and the United
States. We organized as a group in early 2007 to counter the cultural and
political exploitation of Gibranís name and legacy. Our mission now has
expanded to achieving four goals: to advance worldwide recognition of the works,
life and philosophy of Kahlil Gibran; to encourage support of the Gibran National
Committee in Lebanon and particularly the Gibran Museum in Bsharri; to
strengthen the social, economic and cultural development of the region; and to
protect Gibranís legacy from cultural and political exploitation.
Tom Harb, Chairman, Advisory Board for Friends of Gibran Council
Telephone: 407.383.9600
John Hajjar, Advisory Board member, Friends of Gibran Council
Telephone: 617.216.5445