CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Each member of the Mecklenburg Board of Commissioners received a letter Wednesday demanding they rescind a proclamation recognizing the Islamic Holy Month of Ramadan.
Isaac Losh, a consultant, drafted the letter. It says in part, "I move that the Proclamation of Ramadan be rescinded post haste, and any future Proclamation of a Religious Holiday will be dismissed by the Commission at first mention."
Losh says he felt compelled to reach out due to what he considered overreach by the BOCC.
"Government and the state should be separate from establishing, encouraging or elevating a particular religion," Losh declared.
The proclamation passed on June 6 with a vote of six to three; split down party lines.
Republican Jim Puckett said, "I welcome religion in this chamber, but I do not think it even my place to tangentially endorse it."
However, the proclamation got the full support of Comm. Pat Cotham and she says most of the county is behind it.
"I would say 90 percent of the letters I received were very supportive and thought it was great," she said.
However, she did receive Losh's letter.
"The proclamation we did it, we don't rescind them and I think it's a good thing," Cotham declared.
Jibril Hough, spokesperson for the Islamic Center of Charlotte attended the BOCC meeting when the proclamation was voted on.
"We're having hate crimes against Muslims going on and to see a good gesture like that, which means very little other than it was a good gesture," he explained. "I think if we acknowledge different faiths whether it's Hindu, Buddhist, Muslims, Jews, whoever. If they have something special going on in our city and our county, why can't we acknowledge it and recognize it?"
"It doesn't mean we have to believe in it, It just makes us a more welcoming place to live," Hough said.
Hough says he isn't surprised that there are people against the proclamation.
"That diversity includes a lot of Islamaphobes and that's what you're seeing coming out of the bushes right now," he explained. "There's a lot of people out there who are offended by Muslims in the public square, they think we have no place in the public square."
Cotham says her support for the proclamation came after members of the county's Muslim community extended invitations to her and other community members to Ramadan festivities. During Ramandan, those who are able fast from sunrise to sundown. Large gatherings are held during the month to break the fast with dinners.
Cotham says she attended a dinner on Saturday
"I thought it was a great opportunity for us to learn and for us to celebrate them," said Cotham.
Losh said, "I don't think it's within the business of the commission both in terms of time and resources to be taking up these issues."
Losh says he doesn't think any religious holidays should be recognized in this manner.
"Where does it stop from here," he declared.
However, Hough says it's hard to argue separation of church and state -- when many have no issue with local governments recognizing Christian holidays.
"You see the big tree up at the government center every year, there's Christmas socials for government employees, you don't do business on Christmas, there's prayers before meetings, there are a number of ways that Christianity is recognized," Hough said.
Losh says the county's acknowledgement of Christian holidays is not the same.
"People can decorate how they see fit, but to have the signature of the chairperson comes a certain authority or power whether that' real or perceived, that decorating with a tree or a menorah doesn't have," said Losh. "If Ramadan became a federal holiday, I think we would have an issue to talk about at that point in time."
Losh says if the BOCC does not rescind the proclamation, this could be an issue for the federal courts.
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