The University of Michigan at Dearborn is among a dozen or so universities and colleges across the country that will be providing Muslim students with foot baths. *

The university, in a statement posted on its Web site, said the foot baths reflect a “strong commitment to a pluralistic society” and “a reflection of our values of respect, tolerance and safe accommodation of student needs.”

The foot baths, while benefiting Muslim students, are open for use by all students.

In other words, you’re free to be Muslim too.

Smart Arab:

“Supreme Court cases have been heard on far less-obvious violations of our Establishment Clause,” Dr. [Zuhdi] Jasser [chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy] said. “Many if not most American Muslims are currently well able to accommodate our own prayers and ablution to the spaces and facilities provided to all other faiths on public grounds without special accommodations…These baths exert a monetary cost upon publicly funded institutions which by our Constitution should not appease the financial demands of one faith group over another,” he said. “Every other faith group on campus should be demanding that they be provided equal funding and space — which basically demonstrates how outrageous these accommodations are.”

Dumb Jew:

“Under normal circumstances of 21st-century America, unless there is some massive protest including a march on the president’s office, this minor accommodation, which is politically sensitive and seemingly, in the eyes of many so far, reasonably appropriate, will continue to be an unnoticed minor event,” predicted Mr. [Sheldon] Steinbach, a former longtime general counsel for the American Council on Education, which represents most of the nation’s top universities.

And here are more Dumb Jews from the summer:

Jews help Muslims fight county council, July 16:

When Rick Isserman found out last month that St. Louis County wouldn’t allow a group of Muslims to build a new mosque in south St. Louis County, the story sounded too familiar.

Forty-eight years earlier, Isserman’s grandfather, Rabbi Ferdinand Isserman, fought to move his congregation, Temple Israel, from the city to the county, where the Jewish population had been relocating for some years. The city of Creve Coeur cited zoning problems and tried to block the move, but the rabbi and his flock took the case to the Missouri Supreme Court and prevailed.

The case, Congregation Temple Israel v. City of Creve Coeur, produced what is considered a landmark religious-freedom decision that says Missouri municipalities can invoke only health or safety issues in denying a religious group the zoning required to build houses of worship.

In the spring, the St. Louis County Council refused the Islamic Community Center’s request to rezone a 4.7-acre parcel it bought a year before for $1.25 million. The Muslims — mostly Bosnian immigrants — planned to build a second mosque and community center in addition to the current mosque and center off South Kingshighway in St. Louis.

When Khalid Shah, a member of the mosque and a friend of Isserman’s, told him about the council’s decision, the 53-year-old Department of Agriculture employee began making the connection to his family’s legal legacy.

“I’m fighting the same battle as my grandfather 50 years ago,” Isserman said. “It’s a different community and a different place, but it’s the same issue.”

Yeah, it’s exactly the same. Muslims going to mosque are no different from Jews going to shul. There’s no difference or potential for difference whatsoever. Muslims building a second mosque as part of the general mosque-building frenzy is exactly the same as Jews trying to move their synagogue.

A county attorney brushed off notions that the dispute is rooted in dramatic constitutional questions of religious freedom…”They didn’t think it was appropriate zoning,” [Robert Grant] said.

But for many in the Bosnian community — at 50,000 strong and thought to be the country’s largest — the council’s 4-3 vote represents an effort to hinder the traditional American immigrant march toward assimilation.

And as we know, mosques are there to help worshippers assimilate.

After prayers at Madina Masjid, Omer Durakoiec, 44, said the council’s vote was unfair to Muslims. “Freedom of religion, if it’s for a church or for a mosque, is the same thing,” he said.

But the charge of discrimination is contentious, even among Bosnians.

“In my opinion this was not religious discrimination,” said Sukrija Dzidzovic, publisher and editor of Sabah, a Bosnian-American weekly newspaper based in St. Louis. “This was a mistake on Imam Hasic’s part. He should not have bought land that was zoned for commercial use, hoping that he could change the zoning.”

Uh-oh. Someone hasn’t been going to mosque. Because someone sounds strangely rational and…assimilated.

After a failed attempt at mediation in May, the Islamic Community Center sued the council…Temple Israel’s rabbi, Mark Shook…has worked with Hasic to try and get the council to reverse its decision…

Shah and Isserman spoke in June about the case at a monthly study group they started, in which about a dozen area Muslims and a dozen members of Temple Israel read and discuss the Quran and the Torah. Isserman enlisted Shook’s help, as well as congregation president David Weinstein’s, and the three men began mobilizing support for the Bosnian Islamic Community Center.


Hasic said he was moved when he heard that Temple Israel was going to bat for the mosque. “They kept asking what they could do to help,” he said. “They wrote letters, they met with the council, they said we needed to stick together.”

(Since we’ll all be Muslim soon.)

Haynes, the scholar at the First Amendment Center, said the mosque’s fight is similar to many around the country. “It’s usually masked as something else — a zoning issue or parking,” he said. “No one wants to come out and say they don’t want people of a particular faith in their neighborhood.”

But on Banister Road, immediately adjacent to the Bosnians’ land, only one of a dozen homeowners expressed any concern at the prospect of Muslim neighbors.

“It wouldn’t bother me,” said Mamie King, who had a statue of the Virgin Mary in her front yard.

Grace Green, a Pentecostal who described herself as “a holy roller,” said she would like to know more about the group, “but you have to love your neighbors.”

We’re doomed.

*A joke I wrote about the foot baths does not appear on this site as it is too indecent, but those who are not faint of heart can access it at Daily Comedy, where it was chosen as a staff pick yesterday.