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Human-rights complaint seeks secular praying room for Muslims at … Catholic University

posted at 9:25 am on October 28, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

I’ll start off this post by informing readers that they will not identify the most outrageous part of this story from the headline, not here at Hot Air, and not at Fox News, which headlines the story, ‘Do Crosses at Catholic University Violate “Human Rights” of Muslims?’ Before we get to the most outrageous part of the story, let’s hit the teeth-grinding allegations in the complaint (via Katie Pavlich):

The Washington, D.C. Office of Human Rights confirmed that it is investigating allegations that Catholic University violated the human rights of Muslim students by not allowing them to form a Muslim student group and by not providing them rooms without Christian symbols for their daily prayers.

The investigation alleges that Muslim students “must perform their prayers surrounded by symbols of Catholicism – e.g., a wooden crucifix, paintings of Jesus, pictures of priests and theologians which many Muslim students find inappropriate.”

Who filed this complaint? A crank who’s making a habit of targeting Catholic University:

The complaint was filed by John Banzhaf, an attorney and professor at George Washington University Law School. Banzhaf has been involved in previous litigation against the school involving the same-sex residence halls. He also alleged in his complaint involving Muslim students that women at the university were being discriminated against. You can read more on those allegations by clicking here.

Banzhaf said some Muslim students were particularly offended because they had to meditate in the school’s chapels “and at the cathedral that looms over the entire campus – the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.”

“It shouldn’t be too difficult somewhere on the campus for the university to set aside a small room where Muslims can pray without having to stare up and be looked down upon by a cross of Jesus,” he told Fox News.

At this point it’s unclear whether any actual Muslim students at Catholic University are complaining at all. And it would be difficult to understand why they would complain, since Catholic University is a private institution. Its name makes their mission and environment about as clear as one could possibly imagine. If Muslim students had problems with Catholic iconography, one might imagine they would have chosen a more secular environment for higher education — like [s]Georgetown[/s] George Washington University, for instance. As a private Catholic institution, CU is under no compulsion to make arrangements for any other religious services on their campus, nor to strip down the campus so that no one thinks they’re Catholic — even though they’re pretty clear about that.

Besides, what exactly is CU supposed to do — tear down the cathedral dome? I’ve visited CU and the Basilica, and it’s a beautiful, contemplative place. My wife and I attended Mass there on a visit a couple of years ago. The university is hardly overwhelmed with Catholic iconography, however, and there are plenty of places off-campus in the neighborhood for students to meet for those who think it is. According to Google Maps, there are five Islamic centers within 4 miles of the Basilica, including three less than two miles away.

However, none of this is the most outrageous part of the story. The most outrageous part of the story is that the Office of Human Rights thinks it needs six months to probe this complaint:

A spokesperson for the Office of Human Rights told Fox News they had received a 60-page complaint against the private university. The investigation, they said, could take as long a six months.

I can solve this in sixty seconds: “Those offended by Catholic iconography should not choose a private Catholic university for their higher education.” That didn’t take six months or waste thousands of taxpayer dollars. The very idea that this needs six months of investigation tells me that we need to eliminate the Office of Human Rights, and perhaps replace it with the Office of Minding Your Own Business and the Department of Having A Clue In The First Place.

Update: I did mean George Washington University, not Georgetown, which one commenter reminded me is also a private Catholic university (Jesuit, in fact). My point was that these students — if any actually are complaining — could have attended Banzhaf’s university rather than CU.

Added: Oct-28-2011 Occurred On: Oct-28-2011
By: JihadKiller1s1k
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