Proposed Mosques Spark Opposition in Some U.S. Communities: ‘Don’t look at me just as a Muslim, look at me as an American’
Mohammed Labadi has a lot at stake when the DeKalb City Council votes Tuesday on a request from the Islamic Society of Northern Illinois University to build a two-story mosque.
Labadi, a businessman and Islamic Society board member, wants a bigger mosque to replace the small house where local Muslims now worship. He also hopes for affirmation that his neighbors and city officials have no fear of the Muslim community.
“Don’t look at me just as a Muslim, look at me as an American,” Labadi says. It’s time, he says, “to take the unfortunate stereotypes about Muslims out of the picture.” The zoning commission unanimously approved the plan.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which were carried out by hijackers from Arab countries, animosity toward Muslims sometimes has taken the form of opposition to construction of mosques and other Islamic facilities. National debate erupted over plans for a community center that became known as the “Ground Zero mosque” in Lower Manhattan.
In the last five years, there has been “anti-mosque activity” in more than half the states, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Some mosques were vandalized — a $5,000 reward is being offered in a 2011 Wichita mosque arson case — and others were targets of efforts to deny zoning permits .