Entries in Mosque (8)


Construction of Tennessee Mosque Halted

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- Construction of a suburban Nashville, Tenn., mosque that was supposed to have been completed in 2010 has been halted and could be stopped for good after Chancellor Robert Corlew ruled Tuesday that the public wasn't given the proper notice two years ago at a meeting to approve the site plan.

Technically, it means the Rutherford County Planning Commission could still approve the site near the city of Murfreesboro, but its chances of completion are diminished.

Saleh Sbenaty, a spokesman for the leadership of the mosque, says he plans to move forward with the mosque since it's already partially constructed.

Tempers ran high with the announcement of a mosque being built in this conservative Tennessee community, with many opponents proclaiming that Islam is not a legitimate religion.

Two years ago, a fire was set at the site of the planned Islamic center and mosque and investigators looked into the possibility the blaze may have been deliberately set.

At the time, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokesman Eric Kehn said, “Any type of activity like this we take very seriously and we look into. When things like this happen, we really need the help of the public.”

A sign promoting the new facility has also been vandalized twice.  Members of the local Muslim community have expressed concerns they “no longer feel safe.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Members of al-Awlaki’s Mosque Call News of His Death ‘Unfortunate’

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post/Getty Images(FALLS CHURCH, Va.) -- Members of the American mosque where Anwar al-Awlaki once preached responded cautiously Friday to news of his death by a drone strike, insistent that Islam is a faith of peace.

“It happens,” said Joe Navarez, 19, when asked about the killing, which a community leader here called an “assassination.”

“Martin Luther King was assassinated, so it happens,” he said. “I just feel sorry for the family.”

Mustapha Mays, 20, and Faris Paterson-Khan, 20, were also among a mixed crowd of taxi drivers, community college students, and mothers with young children trickling out of the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center following afternoon prayers.

“I think it’s unfortunate news to hear overall,” said Mays.

“It is disappointing whenever anybody dies like that,” added Paterson-Khan.

Both men said mosque leadership preached “strong messages” Friday on the killing but would not elaborate.

The messages were “saying more about how it’s not really what it seems over there,” said Paterson-Khan, referring to Yemen.

Al-Awlaki “preached about this community -- this community as a whole as very cherishing, very warm people,” said Paterson-Khan. “Nothing to be scared of.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Ground Zero Mosque' Clears Legal Hurdle to Build

Protesters attend a pro-mosque rally near the proposed mosque near the World Trade Center site on September 11, 2010 in New York City. Mario Tama/Getty Images(ALBANY, N.Y.) -- The backers of the controversial "Ground Zero Mosque" have won a court fight clearing the way for them to build the mosque and community center complex two blocks from the site of the 9/11 terror attack.

In a decision that was made public Wednesday, New York State Supreme Justice Paul Feinman dismissed a lawsuit by former firefighter Timothy Brown who argued that New York City was wrong to allow the destruction of a 150-year-old building to make way for the Islamic center.

The ex-firefighter who was among those who responded to the terror attack on the World Trade Center said the old building had been struck by debris during the collapse of the twin towers and was a "living representative of the heroic structures that commemorate the events of that day."

In a 15-page decision Feinman wrote, "Mr. Brown's claim that his ability to commemorate will be injured, is not yet recognized under the law as a concrete injury that can establish standing. Such an injury, although palpable to Brown, is immeasurable by a court."

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a conservative legal group that filed the lawsuit on Brown's behalf, said they plan to appeal the ruling.

"This decision fails to give appropriate consideration to first responders and others who risked their lives and lost loved ones on Sept. 11," ACLJ attorney Brett Joshpe said in a statement.

The ACLJ "remain[s] confident that this mosque will never rise above Ground Zero."

Brown and the ACLJ were appealing a ruling last summer by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission which decided to allow a 150-year-old Park Place building to be razed to make way for the center, a project dubbed Park 51.

The cultural center's chief organizer, Feisal Abdul Raufsaid he is "certainly in agreement with the ruling."

"Tim Brown is somebody who I met more than once and we expressed our sensitivities to the issues of the 9/11 families, many of whom are our friends. We have a strong commitment make sure whatever we do meets the sensitivity of the families," Rauf told

Rauf and other organizers, who include his wife Daisy Khan and Sharif el-Gamal, plan to erect a mosque and a $150 million "architecturally iconic" complex a couple blocks from Ground Zero to "benefit the whole community." But funding remains a question.

Rauf said that the organizers are putting together a capital campaign to fund Park 51. "A lot of things are being looked at, donors, loans and how to pay it off. There's a lot of work that goes into putting it together," he said.

Rauf said organizers don't expect to break ground for another three to five years.

Project 51 has been a source of national controversy since its unveiling last May. Opponents as well as supporters demonstrated at Ground Zero in reaction to the commission's decision to allow the mosque last August. Opponents were vocal in expressing their opinion that a mosque so close to the spot where Islamic terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center represented a victory monument to the attacks.

President Obama was drawn into the controversy when he initially endorsed the mosque. "As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country," Obama said at a White House ceremony last summer that marked the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. "That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan in accordance with local laws and ordinances."

But in a visit to the Gulf Coast subsequent to that comment, Obama later dialed back his public support, saying that he supported the Muslims community's right to build the mosque, but was not sure it was a good idea to build so close to Ground Zero.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mosque Controversy: 'Bomb Making' Sign Riles Neighbors

Comstock/Thinkstock(AMHERST, N.Y.) -- A dispute over a mosque in Amherst, New York, has the community buzzing about a sign posted in a neighbor's yard that reads, "Bomb Making: Next Driveway."

Many of the mosque's other neighbors have come to its defense, saying linking the religious center to terrorism is preposterous, and though town officials say they don't like the sign, they say there is nothing they can do about it.

The dispute started when the Jaffarya Islamic Center started a new mosque construction two years ago.  According to Amherst town supervisor Barry Weinstein, the homeowner next to the mosque had several disputes with the mosque leaders and the town council over the facility's lighting and fencing.

The property is zoned for a community facility, and there are several businesses on the street, but the mosque is next to a residential property.

After several investigations by the town council and police department over the sign, they have determined that the sign is protected by the first amendment and cannot be forcibly removed.  Weinstein has made several attempts to contact the homeowner and Police Captain Michael Camilleri says they did speak with the homeowner over the civil matter.

"Other than monitor the situation, there's nothing that we can do," Camilleri said.

The grand opening celebration of the mosque is scheduled for Saturday, when leaders and participants will come from Ontario and New York City to participate in events.

The person listed at the residence with the sign, Michael Heick, could not be reached for comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: Man Fired for Koran Burning Gets His Job Back

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEWARK, N.J.) -- A New Jersey Transit employee who burned pages of the Koran on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is reportedly getting his job back.

Under a settlement, the details of which were obtained by The Star-Ledger, Derek Fenton will return to his job, receive $25,000 for pain and suffering, and $331.20 in back pay for each day since his termination. The state will be required to pay the American Civil Liberties Union -- who brought on the case on Fenton’s behalf --$25,000 in legal fees.

It was his day off, and Fenton did not identify himself as an NJ Transit worker when he tore three pages from a Koran and lit them on fire last September at the site of a proposed Islamic cultural center scheduled to be built near Ground Zero in New York City.

Fenton’s actions ignited outrage -- Gov. Chris Christie at the time called the act intolerable and unacceptable -- and Fenton was eventually fired.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Police Search Home of Suspect in Portland Mosque Arson

File photo. Photo Courtesy - Washington County Sheriff’s Office(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- Portland officials investigating the Corvallis, Ore., mosque arson have searched the home of a suspect, the Willamette Week reported Friday. The arson is believed to have been retaliation after 19-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud was arrested for attempting to set off explosives at the local Christmas tree-lighting ceremony last week. Mohamud occasionally worshiped at the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center.

On Nov. 28, someone broke an office window at the mosque, and threw a flammable liquid into the building. In investigating the crime, police searched the nearby home of 24-year-old Cody S. Crawford on Tuesday, according to the Willamette Week. Police seized computers, cameras, a Bic lighter, and empty propane bottles, among other items. They also took DNA swabs from Crawford's hands and mouth.

On the day of the arson, Crawford apparently told police that his flashlight had been stolen. His description of the blue Maglite pen light was identical to the one police found on the scene. Another clue that led police back to Crawford, according to the Willamette Week's reporting on the affidavit, was a red brick thrown into the Islamic Center that matched red bricks at Crawford's home.

Police did not arrest Crawford.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Arson at Mosque Linked to Suspect in Foiled Portland Car Bombing

The Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center. Photo Courtesy - KATU Portland, Ore.(CORVALLIS, Ore.) -- Fire at a Mosque near the university attended by the suspect in the Portland Christmas Tree car bombing attempt was set on purpose.  The Corvallis, Ore., fire department responded to the fire at the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center early Sunday. 

The fire was limited to one room and firefighters put it out quickly.  A cause and origination investigation led fire officials to determine the fire was arson.  The Corvallis Police Department is treating it as a criminal matter.

The Center is near the University of Oregon campus, where 19-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud attended classes until recently.  He reportedly went to services at the mosque.

Mohamud was caught in an FBI sting operation in which authorities say he tried to detonate a bomb that he didn't know was fake during Portland's Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Saudi Prince Urges Ground Zero Mosque Be Moved

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A billionaire Saudi prince who has been a prime backer of the Ground Zero mosque imam is urging that the controversial Islamic center be built elsewhere.

"Those people behind the mosque have to respect, have to appreciate and have to defer to the people of New York," Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said in an interview with the Dubai-based Arabian Business magazine. "The wound is still there. Just because the wound is healing you can't say, 'Let's just go back to where we were pre-9/11.'"

Alwaleed also said in the interview that Muslims in New York should consider a more "dignified" location, alluding to the presence of at least one strip club and several bars in the area.

"It can't be next to a bar or a strip club, or in a neighborhood that is not really refined and good. The impression I have is that this mosque is just being inserted and squeezed over there," he said.

Alwaleed said that it may take up to 30 years for the wounds of 9/11 to heal, and said that moving forward with the mosque would agitate people needlessly.

"Most governments are pragmatic, most people are logical. There are pockets of extremism in Israel, in the U.S. and in the Muslim world. But we have to fight them with reason, with logic and with compassion," Alwaleed said. "We can't just say 'go to hell.' We cannot do that."

However, Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam of the proposed Islamic center, said he has no intention of moving the project out of the shadow of Ground Zero.

"While we respect the points of view of other interested observers, we plan to build the community center in this location," Rauf said in a statement Thursday.

He said that hundreds of Muslims have been praying in that space every day for more than a year. He said the project is part of an effort to "tackle tough issues in a practical way in order to build better relationships among Muslims, Jews, Christians and people of goodwill from all cultures and faiths."

The proposed 13-story Islamic center two blocks from Ground Zero at 51 Park Place has been in the works for several years. In recent months, however, the project become snarled in national debate about whether it is appropriate to build it so close to the World Trade Center, which was destroyed by Islamic militants on Sept. 11, 2001, killing more than 2,700 people.

The subject has rankled New Yorkers. A poll conducted in August by Sierra Research Institute found that 60 percent of New Yorkers do not support building the mosque so close to Ground Zero. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said people should be free to open mosques, synagogues, and other religious centers, and called the firestorm a midterm election political maneuver.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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