WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) _ Muslims at the U.S. Military Academy numbered just two in 2001. This year, there are 32.
Now West Point has opened its first space dedicated to Muslims, a worship hall complete with a pulpit facing Mecca. The space officially opened Thursday.
“I knew the Army had a policy of religious tolerance, but I didn’t know it was to this extent,” said first-year Cadet Ahmed Moomin, 20, from the Maldives.
Until now, Friday prayers were held in an increasingly crowded first-floor office, said Imam Asadullah, the academy’s Muslim cleric. The number of Muslim cadets jumped by 10 from last year.
The new hall is large enough for dozens of followers, he said.
West Point’s Muslim leaders approached administrators last year for help.
“We live in a world where everyone is looking at the United States saying, ‘You’re anti-Islam.’ But here at West Point, that’s not what we do,” West Point Chaplain Col. John Cook said.
Asadullah said the new hall is a strategic move.
“We have cadets here who are going to be the future of tomorrow,” he said. “If we treat them differently from other cadets or other faiths, that will be a cause for future confrontation.”
Limewoody: “Yeah, Right”.