So a few of us tried to distribute copies of the Gospel of John outside of an Arab Festival, and we were surrounded by eight Glock-carrying police officers, taken into custody, photographed, and released with a stern warning that we would be thrown in jail if we handed out any more copies of the Gospel. (But at least they didn't immediately arrest us while having a peaceful conversation, as they had done two days earlier.)
Muslims, of course, receive different treatment when they attend a festival and distribute their materials.
FOX NEWS--Despite the smells of fried dough and roasted meat wafting from the Minnesota State Fair, Salim and Zuleyha Ozonder were focused on the people who were leaving, not the food or festivities beckoning from across the street.
Each time a new wave of people exited, the young Minneapolis residents — who hadn't eaten all day — tried to press into their hands a small, glossy card that read "Islam Explained" on one side. On the other, it had about 180 words of background on a religion whose adherents fear is being misunderstood by too many Americans as violent and depraved.
"You just want people to take the card, spend a minute reading it and say, 'Oh. They're not terrorists,'" said 27-year-old Zuleyha. She and her husband, like other Muslims, were fasting during daylight hours for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
For most fairgoers, the last thing on their mind is religion — particularly the renewed controversy over Islam in America amid tension over plans for an Islamic center and mosque a few blocks from New York City's ground zero. But volunteers with the Minnesota chapter of Islamic Circle of North America saw the mostly white, Christian fair crowd as just the type of audience that might benefit from greater understanding.
The "Great Minnesota Get-Together" is one of the largest and best-attended state fairs in the country. Every day for 12 days through Labor Day, hundreds of thousands of people stream onto the fairgrounds north of St. Paul to scarf highly caloric food, stare at farm animals, clamber onto carnival rides and enjoy concerts by country singers and classic rock dinosaurs.
"What are they doing here?" said Paulette Kahlstorf of Zimmerman, who declined a card from Zuleyha as she left the fairgrounds with her husband. "I didn't come here for that."
A minute later, Kahlstorf elaborated that she didn't have a problem with all Muslims: "Just the radical ones." And she said she didn't mind their decision to hand out the cards, which include a toll-free number that anyone can call to request a free copy of the Quran. Read More.