IslamRising: Special feature to the Calling Out Community, Posted September 12, 2015. Updated January 28, 2016
A Michigan city’s planning commission turned down a request to build a large new mosque project on September 10, 2015, according to Arabic news agency Al-Jazeera.
And as an evangelical conservative Christian, it may surprise you to know – I actually initially didn’t agree with that decision at all.
The final verdict came down on September 10, the eve of the 14th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in American history, which, though perpetrated by Islamic extremists, has absolutely nothing to do with law-abiding American citizens that wanted to have a new house of worship.
An overflow crowd of hundreds chanted “No more mosques!” and “God bless America” outside the Sterling Heights City Hall that day, as the inner chamber was filled to its 240-seat capacity, according to Detroit ABC affiliate WXYZ Channel 7 News.
At issue was the proposed mosque’s size — 20,500 square feet — to be built within a residential area. That is an unrealistically large religious building of any faith for a residential neighbourhood.
That being said, the Muslim delegation that were seeking to build the Islamic House of Worship in that area would have happily redesigned the facility to meet with local approval, but citizens and the Planning Committee would have none of it.
Those against the mosque say it would cause too much traffic and congestion. A small group hinted at linking the house of worship to extremism.
Mosque leaders say they offered to revise and downsize the plan, changing the dome and towers, but that didn’t work.
When the decision was announced, the crowd both inside and out loudly cheered. The imam requesting the project wasn’t cheering, though. “I think it is more about ignorance,” Mohammad Ali Elah, of the Islamic House of Wisdom, told FOX 2.
And there’s where the Muslims lost me. I have to say that it’s hard to believe there could be that much “ignorance” about a mosque in a town like Sterling Heights. Perhaps it’s the fact the general population has seen TOO MUCH information about Islam in the papers in the last few years, very little of which has been to Muslims’ benefit.
The “ignorance” argument is also hard to swallow, considering the city is in the southeast corner of Michigan’s lower peninsula, close to Dearborn, which has the second-largest Muslim population in the Western world.
Only Paris, the site of two Islamic extremist terrorist attacks, including the January 7, 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre and the November 13, 2015 “Friday the 13th” Massacre, has a larger Muslim population in the Western world.
According to the BBC, of approximately 15 million Muslims who currently live in the European Union, France is home to the largest number, equal to around one third of the total (5 million) – and the city of Paris alone has nearly 1.5 million of those.
Also, the proposed mosque in Sterling Heights would be the third in that small city alone, and the second built since 2011, emblematic of the area’s surge in Muslim residents.
Nearby Dearborn is also the home of the Islamic Center of America, the largest mosque in North America and the oldest Shia mosque in the United States. The local Muslim community raised the $14 million needed to develop the Islamic Centre from their own pockets. The centre includes a gym, a cafe, a car park for 700, a banquet hall, and, at its heart, the mosque with room for 700 men at prayer, and, upstairs, 300 women. Attached to the mosque is a Muslim American Youth Academy, which teaches children from nursery school up to the age of 14.
In all fairness, in terms of religious houses of worship, it’s hardly the largest in Michigan. In fact, Northridge Church, pastored by Brad Powell, is listed as the 15th largest church in America, with attendance of over 15,000 per week. The two-story building holds over 3,000 worshippers.
But what this Muslim group failed to realize – and what likely was the cause of this decision – is growing irritation with worldwide newscasts of Islamic terrorism around the world.
While Islamic groups in America have done nothing to speak out against such radicals, this particular group in Sterling Heights, and this particular imam, are NOT those type of Muslims.
One quick look at their Facebook page alone would quickly reveal that Imam Elahi is a good man – preaching a form of Islamic moderation that this writer has frankly never seen before: hosting interfaith prayer services with Christians, participating in media-sponsored dialogues on the subject of Islam and/or religion as a whole in America, etc.
However, all of that good will was lost when he had the gall to chalk this up to “ignorance” – and this tired nonsense from so-called “moderate” Muslim populations has done no them no favors in America. Rather than understand the fear and mistrust that Americans have because of the unrelenting negative news that Islam has created, this imam sought instead to make American feel bad, even insulted Americans for it.
Start speaking out against the ignorance of Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, ISIS and other crazies and then we’ll talk about your mosques. Until you can prove you are “for us, not against us”…
… your loyalties are questionable, and your mosques are not welcome in our neighbourhoods.