There used to be a television series about the New York Police Department that ended with the voiced-over sign-off: “There are eight million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them.” We’ve been hearing mostly about only one of the religion stories in New York these days, the controversy surrounding the planned Islamic center and mosque near the World Trade Center site. On a recent visit to New York, I had the pleasure of hearing a very different type of New York story when I interviewed the NYPD officers who led the unusual interfaith tour of the Holy Land described in my feature here.
(Photo: German Bundesbank President Axel Weber at news conference after the bank decided to dismiss board member Thilo Sarrazin, 2 September 2010/Alex Domanski)
Germany’s Bundesbank has voted to dismiss board member Thilo Sarrazin, whose remarks about Muslim immigrants and Jews have divided the country. Following are extracts from Friday’s German newspapers on the central bank’s decision, which must still be approved by the German President Christian Wulff.
(Photo: Thilo Sarrazin at the presentation of his book in Berlin, August 30, 2010/Fabrizio Bensch)
Germany’s Jewish community has urged the central bank to sack a board member who polarised the nation by making disparaging comments about Muslim immigrants and asserting that Jews have a particular genetic makeup.
A French fast food chain announced on Tuesday it would almost triple its line of halal hamburger restaurants because sales had doubled in a trial that sparked a heated debate about the integration of Muslims.
New York voters contradicted themselves over a planned Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center site, with majorities saying both that Muslims have the right to build one but that they should be forced to move it, a poll issued on Tuesday finds.
A public opinion poll showing Americans are increasingly convinced, wrongly, that he is Muslim does not trouble him, President Barack Obama said on Sunday.
The president of mostly Muslim Tajikistan has urged parents to withdraw their children from religious schools abroad, an appeal reflecting fears of radical Islam gaining ground in the Central Asian nation. President Imomali Rakhmon, in televised remarks to textile factory workers in a town near the border with Afghanistan, said he was concerned Tajik children attending such schools could return home as “terrorists”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s finance minister and spokesman have spoken out forcefully against disparaging comments about Muslim immigrants by a board member of the central bank, raising pressure on him to resign.
(Photo: Demonstrators for and against the proposed Muslim cultural center and mosque in front of the site in New York, August 25, 2010/Lucas Jackson)
Among the most visible supporters of a proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque near the World Trade Center site have been the city’s Jewish mayor and a libertarian congressman from faraway Texas.
One requirement for a reasonable debate is to define the terms being used. The emotional dispute over the planned Cordoba House in New York, in which supporters and opponents are struggling over how to even describe it, is a case in point. Will the boxy modern building that developers have presented and local zoning boards have accepted be a Muslim cultural centre including a mosque? Or, as critics allege, a “Ground Zero mosque”, a term that evokes visions of domes and minarets rising over the ruins of the World Trade Center. The facts speak for the first option, which is why we have chosen it for our description of this project.