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More than 40 years after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, it is safe to say America has come a long way. Discrimination based on religion, race and gender is illegal and not tolerated. But while this was a historic accomplishment, it was only the beginning. The next step may be more difficult.
Particularly when it comes to religion, society will benefit when people of all beliefs and no belief at all understand what their neighbor believes and how that affects their neighbors’ lives. The first Interfaith Harmony and World Peace Fair and Festival that took place last weekend was created to be a major step in that direction. The festival took place on the playground at IS 145 in Jackson Heights.
The festival reflected the diversity of western Queens. It included Russian dancers, Hispanic singers, martial arts demonstrations, Bangladeshi pop stars and representatives of a broad spectrum of cultures.
An organizer, Muhammad Rashid, said, “This is our children’s future. We have to live in complete harmony.”
The organizers hope it will become an annual event that will have an impact over the city. The festival featured food, music and dance from multiple countries, an enrichment program for children, a presentation on health issues and art displays.
Rashid said Queens is the ideal place to hold this type of event because the borough is home to people practicing nearly all the faiths of the world and all of these religions promote interfaith dialogue with the goal of peace.
It is a noble cause and we wish them well.
There Is a Budget Santa Claus
At the 11th hour, the City Council and the mayor reached a deal that will spare the borough a great deal of pain. Some 4,000 teachers citywide will not be laid off. Four fire companies in Queens will not close and the borough’s libraries will remain open.
We could be cynical and ask why the deal that made this possible was not reached months ago. We could ask why it was necessary to put so many people in fear of losing the income that puts a roof over their families and food on the table. And we could ask if this was just a cruel game of chicken.
But we will just say hurray.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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