The Empire State building was lighted up to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Communist rule in China, the same communist rule that resulted in the death of 100 million people. They wouldn’t light it up for Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday, however. It seems communists are okay but praying and religious figures might not be.
A Muslim couple are suing the Empire State Building for $5 million for forcibly removing them from the building for praying.
Fahad and Amina Tirmizi were on a family outing with their two young children when they say they were forcibly removed from the skyscraper. Dressed in traditional Muslim attire, they went to an isolated area of the observation deck and began reciting their prayers, the suit claims.
After Mrs. Tirmizi was finished praying and her husband began praying, two guards came up to Mr. Tirmizi and “menacingly poked” them. The guards, they claim, “forcibly” escorted them to the ground floor and the exit at 11 p.m.
A representative for Empire State Realty said “The claims are totally without merit and we will respond to them in court.”
Phillip Hines, a lawyer for the the family, told CNN, “an unwritten rule or policy was being enforced by security when they removed these people.”
“They weren’t bothering anybody, they were out of the way, and for them to be thrown out of the building is just an ignorant and shameful exercise in discriminatory conduct,” Hines said.
The couple was “shamed, humiliated and embarrassed in front of each other, their children, and the general public,” according to the lawsuit.
If the couple were just going off to an isolated area to pray, as they described, they should be allowed to do that. The building is privately owned and the owners can do what they want, however, it is an historic landmark and as such, it seems they have a moral obligation to serve the public – all the public.
The family released a brief statement through its attorney. “We weren’t doing anything wrong, we just wanted to enjoy the view like everyone else,” the statement said.
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, strongly supported the couple in a prepared statement Wednesday. He accused Anthony Malkin, CEO of Empire State Realty, of bullying Muslims.
“Muslims who pray in public, including public accommodations, are simply exercising their constitutional rights,” Donohue said. “In play are two First Amendment rights: freedom of speech and freedom of religion.”
More at CNN.