Doesn’t Bilal Shareef know that Muslims revere Christ as a prophet and Christians as “People of the Book”? Why doesn’t this translate into his being able to set foot in a church for a non-religious event? The answer, of course, is because Islam regards Jesus as a Muslim prophet, whose words were twisted by his followers to create Christianity. A church has no legitimacy for Muslims: it is a gathering place of spiritual renegades. This article illustrates that this traditional view is unfortunately alive and well among some Muslims today.
By Tina Kelley for the New York Times, with thanks to all who sent this in:
NEWARK, March 7 “” A Muslim student sued the Newark public schools on Wednesday, claiming that he was unable to attend his high school graduation last June because it was held in a church. The student, Bilal Shareef, 18, said it was against his beliefs to set foot in any building with symbols involving God.
“The position I was put in was very, very uncomfortable,” said Mr. Shareef, who graduated from West Side High with a 4.0 grade-point average and is a student at Union County College in Cranford. He is seeking damages and an order to bar the use of churches for future graduations.
Ed Barocas, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and the student’s lawyer, said that under the state’s Constitution, no person can be “compelled to attend any place of worship contrary to his faith and judgment.”
“I think the New Jersey courts will recognize that the right to go to one’s graduation is essentially part of a student’s right to a public education,” he said. “The culmination of one’s school career is at graduation, and it is one of the most significant moments in a child’s life.”…
Mr. Barocas said that he complained about the church setting on behalf of another Muslim student in 2005, and that Mr. Lattiboudere said then that he would advise administrators against holding future events in churches and would “work with the church to remove or conceal religious symbols for the duration of the ceremony.” The suit says that the symbols were not covered. Mr. Lattiboudere said he believed some were.
Not all Muslim groups adhere to the prohibition against entering buildings with religious iconography. Louay Safi, the executive director of the Islamic Society of North America, which has 400 affiliated mosques, said “this is the first time I have heard of a student not wanting to just visit a church on that grounds.”
The imam of the Islamic Cultural Center in Newark, where Mr. Shareef worships, could not be reached for comment about its stance. Mr. Shareef said, “I can’t speak for all Muslims; I know some that don’t mind and some that do.”…
Ahmad Shareef, Bilal’s father, said he “would have been proud to see Bilal walk up to receive his diploma,” but was “even more proud that he stood up for our beliefs.”