MA: IN ROXBURY, A CALL FOR RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE
Rabbis came in yarmulkes, priests wore their Roman collars, and imams dressed in knitted caps and the loose-fitting gowns called thobes.
About 300 people, from Jews in sandals to suited Christians to Muslims in sequined veils, gathered beneath the arched brick entrance of the city's newest mosque yesterday to mark completion of the first stage of its construction.
They also prayed for tolerance in the wake of controversy and a lawsuit that has raised questions about who paid for the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center and how it obtained the land in Roxbury.
"This mosque is intended to be a place that opens its doors and provides opportunities for all religions and all different ethnicities and different communities to find a place of dialogue," said Bilal Kaleem, executive director of the Boston chapter of the Muslim American Society.
The mosque -- scheduled to open in three to six months, depending on construction and fund-raising -- sparked a lawsuit that contended the Islamic Society of Boston bought the land from the city in 2003 at an unfairly low price. The lawsuit filed by a Mission Hill man was dismissed in February. Last month, the Society dropped its own lawsuit that contended that media outlets and others had defamed it in an attempt to halt construction of the 70,000-square-foot mosque on Malcolm X Boulevard.
At the evening event, which the Society called an Intercommunity Solidarity Day, local officials, activists, and religious leaders praised the society for finishing the project.