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In a week when a cabdriver from Jamaica had his throat slashed because he happens to be Muslim and a man was arrested for urinating on the floor of a Queens mosque, the leaders of a mosque in Astoria opened their doors to the community to counter growing anti-Muslim hysteria.
On Aug. 25, Christians and Jews and others were invited to the Dar Al-Dawah Mosque on 23rd Avenue to join in the evening’s fast-breaking dinner. Each year during Ramadan, devout Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.
Isabel Bucaram, a member of the mosque’s outreach committee member, added, “It’s part of our duty to demystify or dispel the misinformation that people have.”
Out of respect for Muslim tradition, the guests taking part in the dinner removed their shoes and women put on scarves. Anyone old enough to remember black-and-white TV may remember that there was a time when women entering Catholic churches were asked to wear a hat or scarf and to this day there are synagogues that ask all men to put on a yarmulke before entering.
At nearly the same time that this event was taking place, a man named Omar Rivera allegedly walked into a mosque just a few blocks away and urinated on a prayer rug. In a much more serious incident, in the same week an attacker stuck a knife into the neck of a Muslim cab driver who lives in Jamaica.
It may be that both of men have a screw loose, but it seems they were emboldened by the wave of fear and ignorance that is sweeping this city.
In an event that demonstrated the compassion and diversity of this borough, elected officials held a press conference last week in which they urged Queens residents to donate food and money to aid the victims of the flooding in Pakistan. It is estimated that at least 2,000 people have died and 4 million have been left homeless.
City Councilman Danny Dromm and state Sen. Jose Peralta urged the people of Queens to be as generous as possible in the face of this devastation. They recognized that some people may be reluctant to donate because they do not trust the Pakistani government.
They gave their assurance that the food and funds will be put to good use.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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