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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More