SAN DIEGO – Muslim business leaders in a San Diego neighborhood cheered
Wednesday to find banners celebrating the holy month of Ramadan hanging
from light posts as they drove to work. The 16 green and white banners were
restored following protests over a city decision to remove them.

Abdur-Rahim Hameed, president of the Black Contractors Association, said he
was surprised to see the banners – with the words Ramadan Mubarak, or
Blessed Ramadan around a star and crescent moon – flying in a rainstorm.

“I cried with joy,” Hameed said. “It was just like the ‘Grinch Who Stole

Entrepreneurs in the Diamond Business Improvement District, an organization
in southeastern San Diego, raised objections last week when a city code
enforcement officer ordered the 2-by-6-foot banners be taken down.

It is somewhat unclear why the banners, which have been raised annually for
six years, were ordered removed last week.

Bob Didion, a deputy director with the city’s Department of Development
Services, said Wednesday that someone complained to the code enforcement
office, and a check found there was no permit for them.

But a city Web site also said such banners could not have religious content
– a message that was conveyed to the Diamond district when the removal
order came.

That prompted Hameed and others to accuse city officials of hypocrisy since
symbols of Christian holidays, such as Christmas trees, lights, and doves,
are commonly tolerated in December…

In the meantime, the dispute prompted media coverage and led the national
Council on American-Islamic Relations to rally supporters to e-mail the
city in protest. A public meeting this week had City Council candidates for
the ethnically diverse neighborhood unanimously express support..


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