Muslims thank Tulsa police with lunch
BY BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Saturday, March 05, 2011
3/05/11 at 5:38 AM
Extra tables had to be set up for the more than 150 Tulsa police officers who attended the Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at the Al Salam mosque on Friday.
"I'm thrilled," said Islamic Society of Tulsa spokeswoman Sheryl Siddiqui, who was told to expect about 10 to 15 people in the noon shift, and about the same number in two later shifts.
The officers mingled with local Muslims, toured the mosque and sat down in a large meeting room to a meal of barbecue chicken and beef, fried bread, potatoes, fresh fruit and vegetables, baklava and other desserts.
While they ate, members of the mosque circulated among them, offering to bring them food and thanking them for coming.
There was no evidence at the open house of a controversy sparked last week when Tulsa Police Capt. Paul Fields refused an order to send his officers to the event. Fields was reassigned to a different position in the department and filed a federal lawsuit claiming that his First Amendment rights were violated. That case is pending.
Tulsa Muslims said they organized the event to show their appreciation for the police department's handling of a threat against them.
Police Chief Chuck Jordan interrupted his meal at the open house to say he was surprised by the controversy.
"I think the controversy resulted from misinformation," he said. "Once the correct information was disseminated, our officers were happy to come, as you can see from this turnout.
"This is one of many examples of what we do in community outreach. Any time we can interact with the community, both sides benefit from it," he said.
Tulsa Police motorcycle officer Jeff Downs said he attended because "community policing is one of the priorities of Chief Jordan's. We all feel like we need to embrace the community. ... We felt honored to come regardless of our different religions."
Mosque member Nabil Nofal is a Jerusalem native and owner of Jerusalem Market International Grocery in Tulsa.
"This is our way to show appreciation," he said. "We're all a part of this community."
Muslim Sandra Rana said she was "thrilled we could do this."
"We all expect our emergency workers to be there when we need them, and we should be thankful for them.
"We've hosted events like this in the past," she said. "This one just got a little more attention."
Small groups of officers on mosque tours learned about Muslim prayer, funeral and burial customs and ceremonial washings.
Officer Tim Means said he was interested to learn the reasons behind Muslim prayer practices, which include separate prayer rooms for men and women.
The open house ran from 11 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
Original Print Headline: Muslims thank officers
Bill Sherman 918-581-8398
Tulsa Police Department officers go through the buffet line Friday during Law Enforcement Appreciation Day offered by the Al Salam mosque and Islamic Center. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World
Tulsa Police Department officers enter the Al Salam mosque and Islamic Center for Law Enforcement Appreciation Day on Friday. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World
Tulsa Police Department officers tour the lobby of the Al Salam mosque and Islamic Center as part of a Law Enforcement Appreciation Day on Friday. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World