During the late summer, when the big story nationally was about opposition to the Islamic Center in lower Manhattan (the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque”), the big story here in Southern California was the effort on the part of fundamentalist Christians in Temecula to prevent a mosque from being built 3,000 miles from Ground Zero. Some of the opponents used zoning issues as an excuse, while others openly expressed their prejudices about Islam and their fears about terrorism.
I’m glad to report the Temecula Muslims have finally be allowed to build a place of worship just like other religious groups.
It wasn’t easy. Interfaith groups both locally and throughout Southern California rallied in support of Temecula Muslims, and so did Friends. Santa Monica Friends signed on to a letter of support you can read at http://laquaker.blogspot.com/2010/08/supporting-right-of-temecula-muslims-to.html. The Muslim community was very grateful for the support they received from non-Muslims, including Jews and Christians.
The city council of Temecula faced enormous pressure but stood firm in support of religious freedom. A meeting went on for eight and a half hours, in which both sides aired their views in a heated debate. Thanks be to the good sense of the city council, the First Amendment prevailed, and the Muslims were allowed to build their mosque:
“Some 30 Muslims from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community met to pray at the the Chapel Hill Friends Meeting, the worship hall facility for local Quakers, on Raleigh Road. Women gathered in the rear, while the men knelt in front, all facing toward Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the Muslim holy city.”Up until now, we were restricted to a room at UNC Hospitals,” said Yousef Mohsin, a junior at UNC from New York City. “I’m glad to have a place to worship.”
“It’s wonderful for students and the Muslim community, and provides a great platform for Muslims to get together,” said Sanam Sheikh of Chapel Hill.