Muslims protest party flyer
By Yahoo News – Thursday September 5 2002
Copyright: Yahoo News
Seattle-area Muslims are organizing a taxi work stoppage to protest the use of verses from the Koran in a brochure advertising a dance party.
At least four to six dozen Muslim taxi drivers plan to stop work for a few hours during tomorrow night’s rave in Georgetown, said Al-Salaam Mahmoud, leader of the Masjid As Salaam mosque in SeaTac.
More than 100 Muslims independently own cabs in the city, he added, and could affect the community in a public way.
Muslims are offended that the party promoter advertised the rave, called Phase 1, by using religious phrases and verses from the Koran, the holy book of Islam that is said to have been revealed to Mohammed during a period of 23 years.
“The community is totally outraged,” Mahmoud said.
“There are some areas that are sacred.”
Distributed in the Southcenter Mall in Tukwila and a few shops in Capitol Hill, the brochure uses an Arabic verse from the Koran that refers to the month of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast.
Muslims plan to call a news conference in Bellevue today to denounce the use of Koranic verses and show support across faiths. They’re rallying for support from Jewish, Sikh and Christian faiths.
“It’s really the public mocking of religious faith,” said the Rev. Joe Fuiten with Cedar Park Assembly, a non-denominational Christian church in Bothell.
Fuiten supported the Muslims’ protest because he said he wanted to denounce the intolerance shown to a minority religion.
Michael Medved, who is active within the Jewish community, said, “This is an area where we can show solidarity and support for our Muslim neighbors.
“This is a very clear issue of a lack of respect for religious tradition,” said Medved, who is the host of a popular conservative Seattle-based radio show.
Muslims said they object to the use of Koranic verses to advertise a rave, where dancing, drinking and drugs — all prohibited by Islam — are common.
“This is the holy Koran,” said Abdi Akhim, 33, who attends the SeaTac mosque. “This religion is very strict. So imagine people who make a party (using it).”
The party promoter has apologized for using the verses, but did not pull the 50,000 brochures as the Muslim community requested, Mahmoud said.
“We are sympathetic to the complaints of the Muslim community,” the designer of the brochure wrote in an e-mail yesterday. “It was not our intent to insult or undermine the Islamic religion.”
The party promoter could not be reached for comment yesterday.
According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based Islamic advocacy group, there are 1.2 million followers worldwide and 6 million in the United States, making Islam the second-most popular religion after Catholicism.
By some estimates, there are 40,000 Muslims in this region.
Samatar Ali, 35, a Muslim taxi driver, said he had not heard of the work stoppage but would eagerly consider participating.
“The whole thing of the work stoppage is to send a message about how we feel about our religion,” Ali said as he maneuvered his cab through downtown traffic yesterday. “I don’t think any religion should be used in such a manner. That’s a little off the line.”
The brochure’s designer said that he had no idea what the passages meant and “used them purely for their aesthetic beauty.”
But Ibrahim Hooper, executive director of the council, said, people don’t recognize that Islam has a role and presence in this country.
To them, “somehow Islam is exotic and foreign, and makes for good copy,” he said. “They don’t realize it’s offensive. The byproduct is that it becomes clever to use Islamic symbols in advertising.”