Eleanor Duckwall poses this question and links to Daniel Pipes' blog post on the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB). The latest entry has pics of a mural of the mosque being painted at the MBTA Roxbury Crossing station.
"July 24, 2008 update: A reader, the producer of L'Afrique (lafrique.com), was surprised to see that the Roxbury Crossing station of the Boston area subway system sports a painting of the nearby Islamic Society of Boston mosque and other Islamic themes. He sent me pictures of the still-unfinished mural and its surroundings, one of which I reproduce here. (For the others, click here, here, here, here, and here)."
"Comment: As the photographer points out, the Boston public transportation system does not sport crosses, stars of David, or other religious insignia. How did this exception come about? One hopes that Bostonians are not so beat down by ISB litigiousness that they have lost all curiosity about that institution's activities."
I vaguely recall the interior of the Copley Square T station (on the Green line) having a stylized silhouette of the Copley Trinity church, and the Kenmore T station had (still has?) references to Fenway Park (also sihouettes, strike signs, etc.). Having such references inside the subway stations gives a distinct sense of place to each station and alerts riders to what station they're in. But a detailed mural on the outside of a T station seems to be doing something else. When the mosque is right there in front of you, why paint a mural depicting it? I find it odd, and I tend to agree with Eleanor that someone's marking their turf.
I'll try to find out how this mural came to be, who designed it, etc. I didn't find anything on the MBTA website about this. You'd think the MBTA's website would have a page about the artwork at each station, but no such luck. If anyone has the scoop on the mosque mural at Roxbury Crossing, please contact me at email@example.com.
I hope the mural isn't part of the "services in the public interest" that the ISB is providing to the City in exchange for the BRA property. As you recall, BRA Parcel R-14 in Roxbury had a fair market value of $2 million according to the BRA, although the BRA later reduced that figure to $400K. The BRA transferred the property to the ISB for $175K in cash and $225K in "services in the public interest," including an Islamic law library at Roxbury Community College (RCC), lectures about Islam in Africa at RCC and maintenance of the local Clarence "Jeep" Jones park. We haven't heard a peep about these "public benefits", although the ISB has held several park cleanups.
Universal Hub also noticed the Pipes entry, and Adam G writes " I have no love for the the Jew-hating First Amendment deniers at the Islamic Society of Boston, but really, turf marking?" He asks, "Is this worth getting upset over?" No, but it's worth looking into.
UPDATE: False alarm? Molly provides some info in the comments below:
"All right then, if the painting of the mosque means that the Muslims are taking over, how do you explain the painting of the basilica on the other side of the post?"
"Seriously folks, not a single person has gone to look at it for yourselves, have you? The painting of the mosque is done so that a person looking at it will see the mosque in the background. On the other side, there's a painting of the Mission Church so that a person on that side will see the church in the background."
"I'm heading over to Mr. Pipes's site next, but sometimes a distinctive building is just a distinctive building."