News / USA

US Mosque Projects Face Opposition

US Mosque Projects Face Opposition
US Mosque Projects Face Opposition

As Americans debate a plan to build an Islamic center near the site of the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City, protesters in several communities across the United States are trying to block local mosque expansions.

Plans for a proposed Islamic center near the site known as "Ground Zero" have sparked protests and counter-protests in New York City.

But new mosques or mosque expansions at other sites across the country have also fueled protests in central Tennessee, among other places.

Tennessee resident Gary Middleton worries that the mosque could house extremists. "It's just another mosque, training kids to be terrorist," he said.

Stan Whiteway also objects to a new mosque for local Muslims. "I'm sorry, but they seem to be against everything that I believe in.  So I don't want them necessarily in my neighborhood," he said.

At the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley in Southern California, worshippers meet in an industrial warehouse.

Plans to build a new mosque on the outskirts of town have met opposition, mostly from the Baptist church next door.  Its pastor says Islam and Christianity are incompatible.

The mosque's spiritual leader, Imam Mahmoud Harmoush, disagrees.  He says the two faiths have a common heritage and shared values.  Harmoush says the new complex will include additional classrooms, a basketball court and other facilities for children and families.  He says he believes people who oppose this and other mosques have a variety of motives.

"[For] some of them -- [a] misunderstanding of who we are.  [For] some -- [a] negative sentiment about Islamic religion at large.  And probably because of what's going on internally in the country -- some frustration regarding the economy and the politics," he said.

The imam says the fact that the United States has been fighting wars in Muslim countries might also have fueled fear of American Muslims.

Christina Abraham at the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations sees a wave of prejudice that she says is fomented by conservative activists.

"And it's a scary thing to have grown up in a country where you are told that you have a constitution, everybody has a certain set of rights, these rights are inalienable, we are a diverse country and we should all love each other and get along.  And then to see this erupt so abruptly and so viciously, is scary," she said.

But in Los Angeles, some Muslims find cause for hope.

At the Islamic Center of Southern California,  worshipers say they are well-integrated in the community and have had no problems with neighbors.  Nevertheless, spokesman Maher Hathout is worried by what he views as scattered incidents of religious intolerance around the country.

"We will do America and we do ourselves great disservice, if we violate the Bill of Rights [of the U.S. Constitution] and the freedom of religion that actually are the soul and spirit of America," Hathout said.

In Temecula, Imam Harmoush says he hopes that will not happen.  He says most of the telephone calls that he has received have been supportive.  He listens to one on his answering machine.

"I just wanted to call and say that I am a citizen of the United States and I live in Temecula and I am all for this mosque being built," the message said.

One of the founding members of the Temecula mosque, Mohammad Khaled, says he came to the United States 35 years ago to enjoy its freedoms, including freedom of religion.  He says the mosque celebrates its American heritage and educates its youngsters to be better citizens.

"They are coming out lawyers and doctors and teachers.  They are all coming out of here, the new generation of the Muslims," he said.

Worshipers at Temecula's mosque say they hope that despite the controversy elsewhere in the country, approval for construction of their new facility will be granted later this year.

You May Like

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs