A Model of Sensitivity, or a Violation of the Constitution? Koran in New York Police Station Stirs Controversy

December 1, 2003

Source: Muslims


On December 1, 2003 Muslims reported on the ongoing controversy regarding a Koran on display in a glass case in One Police Plaza during the month of Ramadan. According to the article, the display "has led to a controversy: putting a holy writ on display in a public space violates the rule of separation between church and state. 'Given the nature of the job, they have to have some faith,' said Imam Izak-El Mu’eed Pasha from Masjid Malcolm Shabaz in Harlem, who came up with the idea for the display. He feels that to be a police officer, or to do police work, one has to have a lot of faith; thus religion plays an important part in their day-to-day assignments. The display was also a way of representing the increasing number of Muslim recruits on the force and to continue to encourage it. The NYPD has seen an increase in the number of Muslims and Jews joining the force. On the other hand, Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said that the display violates the separation between church and state. ' I think that the government, including the police department, cannot engage in religious promotion,' said Lieberman. 'There is a vast difference between promoting religion and in educating police officers about religions so that they understand and are sensitive to various values and beliefs.'"