Justice Department Files Brief in Support of Tennessee Mosque: News Roundup

For 30 years there has been a mosque in the small city of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. When the mosque recently announced plans to build an Islamic Center next door to accommodate their growing community (right around the time of the uproar over Park51 in lower Manhattan) 20,000 people signed a petition against the center and arsonists set fire to construction equipment. Local religious leaders came out in support of the center.

 
The case made headlines Monday when the Justice Department got involved, filing a brief in support of the Islamic Center that says practicing Islam is a First Amendment right.
 
Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights said:
 
 
On Wednesday, the trial got heated when an attorney for the plaintiffs “equated Islamic religious law with terrorism” and “taunted a witness who said he believed Islam was a religion” (USA Today reports).
 
This is another reminder of Islamophobia’s presence in America and the Justice Department’s brief was an important affirmation of all Americans’ right to religious tolerance.
 
It’s unfortunate that a trial the plaintiffs’ attorney is using the trial as a bully pulpit to lambast Islam – the Justice Department did the right thing in filing the brief.
 
Burqas were also back in the news this week. A retired teacher in France is facing a fine and jail time for ripping a tourist’s burqa off. She defended her actions saying, "I tore her niqab off and I shouted. I wanted to create a bit of a scandal. I think it is unacceptable for the niqab to be worn in the country of human rights. It's a muzzle."
 
Though the attack happened back in February, before burqas were made illegal in France, the prosecutor said this behavior was not permitted and "living together requires, quite simply, an acceptance of the other, of the way in which [the other] is dressed."
 
And in Canada the burqa is back in the headlines. Quebec’s Orthodox Jewish community made a statement to the National Assembly against a bill that would ban Muslim women from wearing the burqa when receiving government services, warning against “adopting ‘hard and fast rules’ that could exacerbate social tensions surrounding religious minorities” (The Globe and Mail).
 
Lastly – a few more articles to check out including a piece from Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortenson on Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action, Sakena Yacoobi!

Have a great weekend!