Kevin James - United States
Towards the end of ’97, I had wanted to form a group of Muslims in the fire department because I felt that there’s this image that the media gives of Muslims as being just wild-eyed terrorists, turbans, beards. I felt that the Fire Department is so American flag, mom’s apple pie, that here we can help dispel this image. There were other concerns that needed to be addressed in the way the fire department interfaced with the Muslim community. So myself and other firefighters, and later EMTs [Emergency Medical Technicians], started working together to address these different issues, and we became incorporated, and we became this line organization, the Islamic Society of Fire Department Personnel…One of the issues we addressed was that there were a number of incidents where the fire department was going to mosques on Friday and trying to conduct building inspections. Presumably they didn’t realize that Friday is the Sabbath for Muslims. So this is something that we addressed. We brought it to the attention of the fire department. We even got the union—the UFoA to put out a bulletin saying that unless it’s an emergency, you shouldn’t inspect mosques on Friday, just like you wouldn’t inspect a church on Sunday or a synagogue on Saturday.