Conversation About Religion and Presidential Candidates Intensifies: News Roundup

In the news this week: violence erupts between law enforcement and Muslim park goers, the conversation intensifies around religion and GOP candidates, another poll finds American Muslims overwhelmingly satisfied with their lives, and other stories.

In a conflict that turned violent, 15 visitors to Playland amusement park were arrested and 2 law enforcement officers were hospitalized. Over half of Parkland’s 6,000 visitors on Tuesday were attending with a Muslim tour group celebrating one of Islam’s two major holidays. Some women were denied entry to one ride because they were wearing head scarves that were forbidden by a safety policy. Things became contentious when the denied visitors sought refunds and law enforcement was called in. At some point, a physical altercation occurred between a visitor and an officer and the conflict spread between other officers and park goers. The Muslim community is displeased with law enforcement’s approach to the situation and that the safety policy was not reviewed for religious considerations. Playland park claims that the tour organizers were painstakingly told about the headgear ban and safety concerns. USA Today

A new bill intended to extend religious protections in New York City was signed into law this week. The bill, initiated by Sikh activists and enacted by the New York City council, adds momentum for such legislation at the federal level, a U.S. senator said. Motivation for the law came from Sikhs applying for city jobs and allegedly being denied based on their appearance and wardrobe, particularly with the New York City Police Department and Metropolitan Transit Authority. Sikh News Network

A New York Times editor has stirred up heated debate about the religiosity of Presidential candidates. Bill Keller proposed that candidates be questioned on their religious beliefs and how they inform their political views, but he suggested these questions only for GOP contenders. Opponents of Keller’s view contend that this line of questioning promotes religious discrimination and advocates a public pledge of allegiance to the United States over the candidate’s faith. Opponents are also questioning why Keller did not propose any questions for President Barack Obama. CNN

In an opinion piece by the Associate Editor of, the author challenges our view of Muslim women:
As Americans, we're used to thinking about Muslim women in various unflattering ways. The most common idea of a Muslim woman, for example, is that of the oppressed victim of Islam. In this manifestation, we usually find a veiled, silent woman imprisoned by her religion and policed by Muslim men. Passively waiting for her rescue, this tradition-bound woman draws significant American attention, if only to remind us how lucky we are to be Americans.

But if Americans could see beyond the media, or at least see a media willing to highlight the truth about the Muslim world, then we would find that women of the Islamic hue are far from passive or silent. In fact, just a glimpse beyond the surface of American media stereotypes reveals that there are some pretty heroic Muslim women in the world doing some pretty amazing things, especially in the cause for peace. Huffington Post

In another poll on the attitudes of Muslim Americans, this one by the Pew Research Center, Muslim Americans are found to be overwhelmingly satisfied with their lives. NPR