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Dispute Over Islamic Mosque Prompts Religious Bias Complaints
Virginia residents say Muslims who want to build mosque are terrorists
Mosque Proposal Incites Outrage by Residents
A dispute over a new Islamic mosque in Spotsylvania is shaping up as only one example of politically-motivated land disputes coming soon following recent terrorist attacks.
Members of the Islamic community want to build a new, larger mosque on some of the community’s prime real estate to replace their old mosque, according to a report by The Legal Forum (www.legal-forum.net).
Their plan ran into loud and harsh criticism from local residents during a recent community meeting. Police broke up the meeting as the shouting continued.
Similar disputes have arisen in other communities, sometimes leading to lawsuits about religious discrimination, property rights and public safety.
Realtors who handle the property transactions risk liability if they show any bias that could violate the Fair Housing Act.
The Islamic Center of Fredericksburg purchased the 10-acre site for the proposed new mosque for $250,000. The group argues that their First Amendment right to freedom of religion means they have a right to build the mosque and worship there regardless of political opposition.
Nevertheless, the Islamic Center must apply for a special-use permit to build the mosque. Afterward, at least two public hearings are required.
The hearings must be held before the Spotsylvania County Planning Commission, then the Board of Supervisors. The Planning Commission must make a recommendation to the supervisors before their final vote on whether to approve the mosque.
Both hearings are expected to be marked by outbursts and heated rhetoric over terrorism and the danger of Muslims.
During the first community meeting this month, at least one man stood to shout down Samer Shalaby an Islamic Center trustee who was explaining the proposed project. “I will do everything in my power to make sure this does not happen because you are terrorists,” the man reportedly said. “Every one of you are terrorists.”
Other residents raised doubts about whether adequate parking was available around the site of the proposed mosque to avoid traffic congestion. Their parking concerns raised questions about whether their real motivation was to block the mosque for political reasons.