I was so relieved when I read the speech that New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg gave about the historic vote allowing a mosque to be built near the site where the World Trade Center used to be located. It's online here:
if you're interested.
I love this quote: "We do not honor [the lives of those who died on September 11, 2001] by denying the very Constitutional rights they died protecting. We honor their lives by defending those rights – and the freedoms that the terrorists attacked." Religious expression is at the very core of American freedom. As a person who is also a member of a -- if not unpopular, then mostly misunderstood -- religion, I appreciate New York's reaffirmation of the right all men have to "worship, how, where, or what they may" (Article of Faith 11).
I took my kids to the zoo two weeks ago and saw my first burqa/hajib (sorry I don't know the difference). Like the woman I saw, I also wear a religious garment daily. You can't see mine outside my clothes (unless you know what you're looking for), and I felt a little kinship to that lady. The French ban on the burqa came to my mind. I am still irritated by this blatant French religious persecution veiled as a "ban on covering the face in public" for security purposes.
The French ban singles out the religious expression of an unpopular group by labeling it a security threat. Contrast it with the reaction of New Yorkers, who have also endured terrorist threats from religious extremists, and yet courageously chose principle over fear.
I applaud New Yorkers for their courage.