(Image: Atheist holiday billboard/American Atheists)
U.S. Catholics and atheists are doing battle over the holiday season with dueling billboards on opposite sides of the Hudson River separating New York and New Jersey.
The makers of a new movie about family life for black Muslims in America want to highlight challenges facing followers of Islam, just as Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” revealed the racism and harsh realities facing black youth in Brooklyn two decades ago.
(Photo: Rally against proposed Muslim cultural center and mosque near World Trade Center site in New York ,August 22, 2010./Jessica Rinaldi)
The U.S. Justice Department has said it is monitoring 11 cases of potential land-use discrimination against Muslims, a sharp increase in cases under a federal law designed to protect religious minorities in zoning disputes.
(Photo: An honor guard trumpeter plays during the ceremony on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York September 11, 2010/Chris Hondros)
Amid threats of Koran burning and a heated dispute over a planned Muslim cultural center in New York, Muslim leaders and rights activists warn of growing anti-Muslim feeling in America partly provoked for political reasons. “Many people now treat Muslims as ‘the other’ — as something to vilify and to discriminate against,” said Daniel Mach of the American Civil Liberties Union. And, he said, some people have exploited that fear in the media, “for political gain or cheap notoriety.”
It was almost two years ago that Islamist militants attacked Mumbai and killed at least 166 people. Among them were six Jews, including Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka. Most non-Jewish readers probably had no idea what a Brooklyn-based Jewish couple was doing there. Many Jews would have known right away — they were running the Chabad House, one of a worldwide network of Jewish centres run by Chabad-Lubavitch, a Hasidic movement devoted to supporting Jewish life wherever it may be found.
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: 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.