Muslim group wants New York jail chaplain fired

NEW CITY, New York: Muslims have called for the dismissal of a New York jail chaplain who distributed anti-Islam booklets with derogatory depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.

Azra Fasihuddin, a member of the Islamic Center of Rockland County, said the congregation was infuriated to learn that Teresa Darden Clapp, an ordained Christian minister, was put on paid suspension last week for distributing the booklets.

“We are very upset about these false allegations against our religion,” Fasihuddin told the Journal News in Tuesday’s editions. She said Clapp should be fired.

“She should be let go. And why is she being paid while she is suspended?”

The religious booklets characterize Muslims as worshipping an “idol” and devil called Allah, and the Prophet Muhammad as a criminal and a “religious dictator.” Allah is the Arabic word for God, and Muslims say they worship the same God as Christians and Jews.

Rockland County Sheriff James Kralik said Clapp was placed on paid suspension last Thursday, and that the incident remained under investigation. He said questions remained as to Clapp’s intent in distributing the materials. “As we learn more about it and gain a better understanding of it, we will change as necessary,” he told the Journal News.

Mohammed Ziaullah, an official at the Islamic Center, also criticized the paid suspension. “That’s not a type of punishment,” he said. “That’s a vacation.”

Kralik said he would meet with officials of the Islamic Center of Rockland on Tuesday.

Clapp’s phone number was not in service Monday, the Journal News said. She was not at home and did not respond to messages left there.

Doctor Says...

It was not clear how many booklets were distributed. Jail officials said they learned about them after an inmate complained about two weeks ago.

In the cartoon panel stories, a tract titled “Men of Peace?” says Islamic fundamentalists who commit terrorist acts are not “bad Muslims” but “very good Muslims” who act in accordance with their religion. Another tract, titled “Allah Has No Son,” says Allah is not God, Muhammad was no prophet and the Quran, the Muslim holy book, is not the word of God.

Both stories end with people being convinced that Islam is false. In one ending, a Muslim is contrite on learning he is worshipping a false idol and converts to Christianity.

The Journal News said the booklets were from Chick Publications, a company that produces gospel tracts and other media to advocate Christianity and condemn religions it deems false, including Islam and Roman Catholicism.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday April 18, 2007.
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