Muslims are circulating a petition demanding that New York City remove Muslim names from sidewalks in the Big Apple. Muslims consider the name Mohammed so sacred that having anyone bearing that name and etched on a sidewalk is an insult and a “hate crime.” In an online petition calling for the removal of the name Mohammed from 200 names of persons honored by the city in black granite along Broadway from City Hall to Battery Park, Alina Nisar wrote “It is a hate crime and must be prosecuted.” The names were put there to honor every ticker tape parade to travel down the historic corridor in Manhattan. Among the persons so honored is the former Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
 
The etchings in granite do not honor Mohammad -- the founder of Islam -- specifically. However, many Muslim men do bear his name.
 
Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American Islamic Relations said, “Walking on an important symbol is a sign of disrespect.” Hooper added, “As Americans might view walking on an American flag or a grave disrespectful, in Islamic culture, the prophets are some of the most important things in the world.” 
 
Mohammad Reza Pahlevi was a close ally of the United States who was overthrown by an Islamist revolution. He was honored with a reception at City Hall and a ticker tape parade on Nov. 21, 1949. “It was with the utmost respect…that we placed granite markers…to more permanently commemorate them,” said Jessica Lappin, President of the Alliance for Downtown New York. The markers would set down on the sidewalk some 14 years ago.
 
A separate petition was issued last year by One Nation US that has but 700 signatures. It is not clear why another petition has emerged now. However, Islamist groups such as CAIR have been vocal in their opposition to President Trump’s immigration policies that they feel unjustly target Muslims. 
 
There are other names that Muslims want removed: Ibrahim, Ahmad, Hassan, and Ali. This would mean removing all references to anyone bearing the name Mohammad, as well as former President of Sudan Ibrahim Abboud, the former President of Guinea Ahmed Sékou Touré, the former king of Morocco King Hassan II, and the former Prime Minister of Pakistan Liaguat Ali Khan. 
 
The Downtown Alliance estimates that taxpayers will have to shell out $10,000 to remove each name, meaning a total of at least $110,000 for all 11.


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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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