Religious symbols in courtrooms

at marie a. failinger mfailing at SEQ.HAMLINE.EDU
Mon Mar 10 23:45:24 PST 1997


Brooks, I wonder if you could pull up the entire report, as I understand
that Muslim groups have responded in different ways to the Muhammad
controversy.  Otherwise, I'll post information from my source.

Marie Failinger

On Mon, 10 Mar 1997, Brooks Fudenberg wrote:

> The Washington Post reported Saturday that a coalition of Muslim groups is
> seeking to have a 66-year old image of Muhammad removed from the Supreme
> Court.  The frieze, on the north wall, is part of the original
> architecture of the current Supreme Court building, and is part of a theme
> of "Great Lawgivers."  It offends the Islamic prohibition on making
> images.
>
> The coalition of 16 groups from across the country wants to have the
> frieze sandblasted.  They are willing to pay for the blasting.
>
> Sandblasting Muhammad's image would entail risks to the figures of
> Justinian and Charlemagne, who stand alongside him.  It has also been
> suggested that they simply sandblast out the face, or put a veil over the
> face.
>
> Four twists:
>
> The image shows Muhammad with a sword in his hand and a Koran in the
> other.  This, it is said, stereotypes Muslims as warlike.
>
> Similarly, Muhammad is referred to (not in the work itself, but in
> "Supreme Court literature") as the founder of Islam, but, say opponents,
> he was not the founder.  Rather, he was the last in a line that stretches
> back to Abraham.
>
> The frieze has Muhammad holding the Koran in the left hand, which is
> especially insulting, because the left hand is considered unclean.
>
> And, some say, not only Muhammad but all the Islamic prophets--Moses,
> Abraham--should be removed.
>
> Brooks R. Fudenberg
> University of Miami School of Law
>



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