Friday, June 01, 2012

Midwestern Muslims

I grew up in the cornfields of Northern Illinois.  During my youth ethnic diversity still tended to be defined in terms of different Western European language groups (we had lots of Scandinavians and Germans in our area) and religious diversity was largely limited to varieties of Christianity.  

Lots of folks seem to think that's still the case.  Things are so different here in __________ (fill in with West Coast, East Coast, South, etc.), you Midwesterners wouldn't understand.  

That's why the following from ENI caught my eye. 

Chicago (ENInews)--Mohammed Labadi had a lot at stake when the DeKalb City Council voted 29 May on a request from the Islamic Society of Northern Illinois University to build a two-story mosque. Labadi, a businessman and Islamic Society board member, said a bigger mosque was needed to replace the small house where local Muslims now worship. He also was hoping for affirmation that his neighbors and city officials have no fear of the Muslim community, Religion News Service reports via USA Today. "Don't look at me just as a Muslim, look at me as an American," Labadi said. The City Council unanimously approved the plan. However, in the decade since the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, animosity toward Muslims sometimes has taken the form of opposition to construction of mosques and other Islamic facilities. National debate erupted over plans for an Islamic community center that became known as the "Ground Zero mosque" in Lower Manhattan. [766 words, ENI-12-0315]

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