Islamic Center of Tacoma Hosts Open House to Educate, Engage Neighbors In Wake of Cartoon Crisis

February 27, 2006

Source: The News Tribune

On February 27, 2006 The News Tribune reported, "The University Place mosque held an open house Sunday to show non-Muslims the sanctuary, and answer questions about their religion – with a special focus on the prophet Muhammad and the recent controversy regarding some newspapers’ decision to publish editorial cartoons depicting him.

'We saw this as an opportunity to educate,' said Jannah Abdul-Qadir, who attends the mosque and is a member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

A Danish newspaper published a series of caricatures of Muhammad last fall, and the uproar intensified after a Norwegian newspaper, citing freedom of expression, reprinted the cartoons in early January. One of the drawings depicts the prophet wearing a turban-shaped bomb with a burning fuse. The News Tribune has not published any of the cartoons.

Islamic tradition forbids artistic renderings of Muhammad because of the religion’s opposition to worshiping an object as God, Abdul-Qadir said.

At Sunday’s open house – which drew about 60 people – the men and women were sequestered in different rooms where they watched a documentary on Muhammad’s life and were encouraged to ask questions about Islam.

Queries ranged from basic questions about the religion to complex political questions about its role in the Middle East.

The women’s discussion was closed off to men, including the media.

Members of the mosque deflected questions that had a political bent – including those about the recent election of the controversial Palestinian group Hamas – and instead focused on more bread-and-butter Islam questions."