CAIRO - A university exercise for students to step on the word Jesus is inviting the ire of the Muslim community in the United States, terming the behavior as an example of harassment and discrimination in the country.
We love and revere Jesus, Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the umbrella Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told Colorado Springs' The Gazette.No Muslim would step on Jesus. If the professor demands it, the proper response for a Muslim is: No, and I'm about to call my lawyer.'
An instructor at Florida Atlantic University triggered uproar last week after asking students to write Jesus on a paper and then step on it.
But a Mormon student objected, telling the instructor that his request for stepping on Jesus was offensive.
Anytime you stomp on something, it shows that you believe that something has no value, Ryan Rotella, the Mormon student, told Boca Raton's CBS affiliate.
So, if you were to stomp on the word 'Jesus,' it says that the word has no value.
To the shock of many, the student was suspended from the class by university administrator after complaining about the practice.
University officials initially defended the instructor, saying that the practice was part of an exercise recommended in the textbook on intercultural communication.
They also denied suspending the student over his objection.
But we had the suspension in writing on the university's letterhead, said Rotella's lawyer, Hiram Sasser, of the Texas-based Liberty Institute, which defends religious liberty.
Sasser said the order for students to step on Jesus clearly violates the school's no-tolerance policy on harassment and discrimination if the school is to apply it fairly.
If we replace Jesus' with Gandhi' or Muhammad,' the liberals in academe should see this sort of thing as harassment and discrimination, Sasser said.
But a lot of those who talk about diversity also criticize those who hold traditional religious beliefs sacred. It's not really about diversity. It's about deciding which values we are going to revere and which we are going to silence.
American Muslims described the exercise as a shocking example of harassment and discrimination.
A lot of people tell Muslims that we should be more like Christians and just take it when someone does something irreverent to that which we hold sacred, CAIR communication manager Amina Rubin said.
Yet part of being reverent involves standing up, as this student did, when someone tries to denigrate that which is sacred.
Muslims believe in Jesus as one of the great Prophets of God and that he is the son of Mary but not the Son of God. He was conceived and born miraculously.
In the Noble Qur'an, Jesus is called "Isa". He is also known as Al-Masih (the Christ) and Ibn Maryam (Son of Mary).
As for his crucifixion, Muslims believe that Jesus was not crucified but was lifted up to heaven.
Muslims believe that Jesus will come back to earth before the end of time to restore peace and order, fight the Anti-Christ (Al-Masih Al-Dajjal) and bring victory for truth and righteousness.
The true followers of Jesus will prevail over those who deny him, misrepresent him and reject him.Though there are no official figures, America is believed to be home to a Muslim community of between six to eight million.