Muslim Issue Hits National News
What is being called a “Holy War” by Sean Hannity of Fox News, the dispute surrounding illegal discrimination against Muslim students has been covered by several news venues, both national and local this week.
Not only was it covered by an article and a seven minute debate on Fox News, the issue was also featured in the Washington Post and on KETK, a division of NBC.
According to the Washington Post, George Washington University Professor John Banzhaf filed these charges against the University based on an article written in the Post last year where a Catholic University student discussed praying in a room with a crucifix and a life-size painting of Jesus, even though Banzhaf “had not received any complaints from Muslim students.” The FOX News and Commentary article by Todd Starnes entitled “Do Crosses at Catholic University Violate ‘Human Rights’ of Muslims?” however, claims that “Banzhaf said some Muslim students were particularly offended because they had to meditate in the school’s chapels.”
The issue of discrimination has not been raised by Muslim students at CUA, but by Banzhaf. Though Banzhaf reported to the Washington Post that no Muslim students had complained to him about the issue, he reported the opposite to FOX News.
The case has been controversial in the media. News officials are defending the University in these charges even though, “We have not yet received any legal filing from the Office of Human Rights referring to Mr. Banzhaf’s allegations,” said Victor Nakas, Associate Vice President of Public Affairs. “No students have registered complaints about the exercise of their religions on our campus,” said Victor Nakas to FOX News.
Media outlets, however, are reporting that Muslim students have filed complaints.
“The Muslims who are upset here applied to go to school at Catholic University. Not the University of Tehran at Washington D.C. What did they think they were going to find? Why can’t they be happy to be here and use the space afforded?” said Neal Barton, KETK News Director, on Neal Barton’s Point of View.
“If kids are that uncomfortable, go to another school. If you don’t like a picture of Jesus and a crucifix in a Catholic school, don’t go to the school. No one is forcing you to go to the school. But don’t put the school in a position to change who they are to accommodate a faith they don’t even agree with,” said Sean Hannity on FOX News.
What media outlets, as well as students, need to keep in mind is that these charges are being filed by Banzhaf and may not correctly represent the feelings and opinions of the Muslim students on campus.
“The community here is very respectful of other religions and I feel free to openly practice it,” said Wiaam Al Salmi, a Muslim student at CUA.
“At Catholic universities, people would be not just understanding, but appreciative of somebody else’s faith differences,” said President John H. Garvey in an interview with NPR last December. “And so there’s a kind of invitation or welcome that you don’t feel in the ordinary kind of environment.