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

    Beijing Warns Critics Over South China Sea Dispute

    Official warns critics that the more they challenge China's position regarding disputed territories in one of world’s busiest waterways, the more it will push back

    Will New Russian Force Be 'Putin’s Personal Army'?

    With broad powers to control riots, suppress dissent, National Guard may be aimed at sending a message to West as much as keeping peace at home

    Move Over Millennials, Here Comes iGeneration

    It’s the first American generation to be born, almost literally, with a smartphone in hand

    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.
    Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020i
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    May 05, 2016 10:05 PM
    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020

    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Child Labor in Afghanistan Remains a Problem

    With war still raging in Afghanistan, the country also faces the problem of child labor as families put their school-age children to work to help make ends meet. But, thanks to VOA's Afghan Service, two families whose children had been working in a brick-making factory - to earn their livings and pay off family debts - now have a new lease on life. Zabihullah Ghazi reports.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora