‘Every time we allow a mosque to go up, it’s like planting IED’
The proposed Ground Zero mosque in New York City has been a focal point for those wanting to expand Islam’s influence in America, but it’s not the only front on which the nation is facing the advance of Muslim interests.
There are more than 3,000 mosques in the U.S., and work is being done on several major projects that have neighbors alarmed to the point of resistance.
One of the hot-button mosques is the proposed Temecula Valley Islamic Center. Land for the project was purchased several years ago, but a number of people in the Southern California town have an organized campaign to derail the project.
Opponents have held signs on street corners, and a number of the protesters say their concerns include many facets other than being “anti-Muslim.”
One of the leading spokesmen for the mosque opponents is Mano Bakh, who fled Iran 30 years ago after the Shia-backed Iranian Islamic Revolution
Bakh believes it’s appropriate to oppose the mosque because there are two sides to Islam.
“The main reason is that there are two segments to Islam, the thing that calls itself a religion. One is the religious part of it to pray and the other one is to Shariah law, the way of life,” Bakh explained.
“We have no problem with the praying part of Islam. What we have a problem with is preaching what is in Shariah law,” Bakh continued.
However, the former Iranian citizen and author who has shared his story in his biography, “Escaping Islam,” says the community is willing to extend an olive branch.
“We have given a pledge of friendship to the imam. We say, ‘If you really claim that you’re a moderate and inclined to moderation in Islam,’ sign it,” Bakh said.
However, he continued with some harsh words of clarification.
“Don’t say you’re a moderate Muslim if you’re going to preach the same hatred from the Quran and Islam and Shariah law. He has to sign it and build a pledge of friendship,” Bakh stated.
The olive branch isn’t only for the imam at the Temecula Valley project.
“We would love to have all the imams across the country in the United States sign it, acknowledge it, that you’re a moderate. The reason is simple. In Islam, there is no moderation. You may find a moderate Muslim, but you cannot [find] moderation within the religion that they claim,” Bakh explained.
“We in California, in America, because we want the people to understand more, we have organized a night of education on September 20 at 7 p.m. We have invited several hundred people to come and understand the truth of our position, to understand what we think Islam and the mosque should be and what they want to use the mosque for. That’s two different things,” Bakh continued.
“In my past, I have been a Muslim apostate and wrote about it in my book, ‘Escaping Islam,’” he added.
“In Islam there are five pillars of Islam. If you believe in the five pillars, you’re a Muslim. Those five pillars have nothing to do with the background, has nothing to do with wife-beating, has nothing to do with Shariah,” Bakh stated.
“We are concerned that they are going to preach hate. That’s why they’re not calling it a mosque, they’re calling it an Islamic Education Center. What they’re going to teach is hate, and killing the infidel,” Bakh asserted.
Bakh stated in an interview with Southern California Public Radio that he favors taking away civil liberties from Muslims as long as they promote values contrary to the U. S. Constitution.
The proposed Islamic Education Center will go before a city planning board in November.
A proposed mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn., has attracted media attention because the project has been greeted with organized protests. Mosque opponents say they don’t want the 15-acre site to be a training center for militants who may go on suicide bomb missions.
One report alleges that anti-mosque feeling may have been the motive for an act of arson earlier this month at the proposed mosque site. Federal authorities are offering a $20,000 reward for information on the alleged arson.
Other mosques around the country have been getting similar attention, although the levels of opposition vary.
A source in St. Joseph, Mo., who does not want to be identified says the proposed mosque project in that community isn’t drawing public protests. The opposition in the Missouri city about an hour north of Kansas City is coming mostly from blog posts and e-mail campaigns.
Another mosque opened in the affluent Philadelphia suburb of Berwyn, Pa. The Washington Post reported that the Pennsylvania mosque has good relations with its neighbors and opened with little, if any, attention from the media.
The stories of cordial relationships would seem to counter the aggressive anti-mosque position of the protesters. However, the stories of peace and harmony between the mosque and the community don’t seem to square with reality.
American Family Association policy analyst Bryan Fischer says 80 percent of the mosques being built are funded by Middle Eastern money. Most are also acting as training academies.