Area Muslims are backing off of plans to build a mega-mosque in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, after meeting resistance from residents who fought the project.
Local media are portraying the story as a case of “anti-Muslim backlash” gone wild.
There is no evidence of any physical violence directed against Muslims in the community, but a man did stand up at a town-hall meeting late last year and tell the local mosque leader he was a terrorist and to “shut up.”
The Islamic Center of Fredericksburg has outgrown its current mosque and submitted plans last fall for a much larger facility outside of town in nearby Spotsylvania County.
But now Samer Shalaby, a trustee of the Islamic Center of Fredericksburg, tells the Free Lance-Star that the mosque is considering selling some of its land to a home builder and using the proceeds for a possible addition at its current in-town location.
But that could depend on whether residents who live near the proposed mosque site on Old Plank Road are OK with having up to 20 homes there instead.
The Islamic Center bought the nine-acre parcel in 2012 for $230,000 and had planned to build an 8,000-square-foot mega-mosque on the site.
Meetings about the proposed new mosque got heated last year.
At one meeting in November, a sheriff’s deputy reportedly halted the meeting after one man got a little too riled up. The male resident was captured on video pointing a finger at the imam and saying, “You’re a terrorist. Every one of you is a terrorist, I don’t care what you say. You can smile at me, you can say whatever you want, but every Muslim is a terrorist.”
The man who shouted down the mosque leader had served in the U.S. Marine Corps, sources told WND, but WND has so far not been able to locate the man to confirm whether that is true.
The man concluded his tongue-lashing of the imam by saying, “Shut your mouth. I don’t even want to hear your mouth.”
The imam told a Washington TV station the meeting was “almost like a mob.”
WUSA Channel 9, a CBS-affiliated TV station out of Washington, D.C., headlined the story, “Racist rant at Spotsylvania mosque meeting.” Islam is not a race, but apparently that never clicked with WUSA.
Some at the meeting voiced concerns that the bigger mosque would result in the federal government sending refugees to the community from Syria and other jihadist hotbeds.
Watch video of heated meeting below:
The city of Fredericksburg, Virginia, has been a federally designated resettlement site for at least 15 years.
A check of the U.S. State Department’s Refugee Processing Center database shows the government has delivered more than 500 refugees to Fredericksburg from Muslim-majority countries since 2002. Most have come from Burundi, Bhutan, Iraq, Somalia and Sudan, enough to fuel the growth at the local mosque.
The mega-mosque proposal came before the local city council right after the attack on Paris that killed 130 people and wounded more than 300. Then came the attack on San Bernardino in December followed by more attacks by Muslims on Brussels, Belgium; Orlando, Florida; and Nice, France, among other attacks at an airport in Istanbul and a tourist area frequented by Westerners in Bangladesh. Hundreds ended up dead worldwide at the hands of jihadists during a bloody Ramadan.
Meetings originally scheduled for November and December were postponed because of fears about “backlash” against Muslims in light of the rash of Islamic terror attacks, the Free Lance-Star reported in December.
“We simply do not want anyone, Muslim or not, to suffer threat or harm at the hands of individuals who may target the meeting with acts of hatred,” mosque officials stated. “With the blessing of Allah … we will continue to move forward with the Spotsylvania County application process for the new mosque in the New Year.”
The plans for a much bigger mosque in this community divided local Christians. Those who see Islam as just another religion that is peaceful were on one side and those who see Islam as based on hatred and intolerance were on the other.
A group gathered at an interfaith vigil in December to pray with Muslims, whose god, Allah, they believe is the same as the Christian God. They gathered at a “Prayer Vigil for Healing and Unity” at St. George’s Episcopal Church in downtown Fredericksburg.
As tensions escalated, Munira Abdalla called her friend, the Rev. Gay Rahn, associate rector of St. George’s, and asked for prayers. With Christmas approaching, the church clergy was busy, but they were determined to hold the interfaith service, which “mingled Christian liturgy and Scripture from the Quran,” the Free Lance-Star reported.