Hundreds of people turned up at a Planning Commission meeting in Sterling Heights on August 13, 2015 to protest the building of a mosque in their community in a scene repeated throughout the country over the past two decades. Is the issue traffic congestion, or is it a more sophisticated form of anti-Islamic religious prejudice? Today, many Americans are sensitized to accusations of racism and religious and discrimination and are too smart to just openly express hatred. But some still do
By Ray Hanania
According to many of those protesting the construction of a mosque in Sterling Heights, Michigan, the main reason is that the mosque will cause congestion in a quiet neighborhood of residential homes.
The Detroit Free Press, and protestors, report that the area where the mosque is to be built is zoned “residential.”
But all you have to do is go to Google Earth, the great equalizer in big debates like this to see what’s really happening. And when you type in Hatherly Place and Davison Drive and the intersection of 15 Mile Road and Mound Road, you see a far different picture, one that screams racism and hatred along with “traffic congestion.”
The mosque is to be 20,500 square feet, the size of a typical Christian Church. There are several Christian Churches in Sterling Heights. It will be built on a four and a half acre lot that is undeveloped and located off of 15 Mile Road, between Hatherly Place on the West and Davison Drive on the East.
Often, the mosque is careless described as being in the Hatherly residential division of homes. It is zoned residential but that zoning allows for a religious institution like a Catholic Church, Protestant Church, and, a Mosque.
But the sacred “residential” aspect of the area is not really the complete story.
To the East of the mosque site is a huge industrial and retail strip that runs from 19 Mile Road to the north to 14 Mile Road to the South, between Mound Road and Route 53.
West of Mound road, most of the development is residential but closer to Mound Road is a lot of property that is not residential at all, like the huge Hatherly Educational Center which provides day care to about 100 children every day. It has a huge parking lot for cars to come and go, and what look like playgrounds and baseball fields.
The Mosque would be just south of that, according to proposal descriptions on pretty much empty land.
The people who live in the Hatherly residential sub-division nearby probably have to put up with a lot of traffic from the industrial and residential properties to the east. But to suggest that the Mosque is going to make a major difference in that area is ridiculous on its face, exposing the true reason for the opposition, race and hatred.
Now, a lot of the protestors reject claims they are racist, arguing that Islam is a “religion” not a “race.”
That may be true. But in today’s post-9/11 World, most Americans are uneducated about Islam and the world. Let’s face it. They believed the lie from former Vice President Dick Cheney that Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and was building a nuclear weapon.
Instead of pursuing al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, we put most of our military forces in Iraq, to pursue Cheney’s personal agenda, revenge against a Middle East tyrant who embarrassed him and his former boss, President George H.W. Bush during the 1990 war to push Iraq out of Kuwait, a client of Cheney’s company, Halliburton.
So when you scream Mosque, Islam, Muslims and terrorism in American cities like Sterling Heights, a lot of uneducated and some very ignorant Americans will jump out of their skins to protest, as they have been doing near the intersection at 15 Mile road and Mound Road, just east of the site.
The issue is being decided by the Planning Commission, which has another meeting planned for Sept. 10, and they are lobbying hard against it. Many are angry that the Sterling Heights August 18 hasn’t become involved, but the Mayor, Michael Taylor, rightly pointed out that the City Council doesn’t have authority over the Planning Commission authority.
But several candidates running for election in Sterling Heights claim that if they are elected, they would change that. Of course they would, because the issue is a Mosque and Muslims.
A member of the Sterling Heights City Council, where residents protested against the mosque during the public participation segment even though the Mosque was not on the City Council’s agenda, said that if this were a plan to build a Catholic Church, no one would have protested.
And he’s right.
The fact is that the protest is because the project involves a Mosque and Muslims. And while neighbors may object rightly because homeowners rarely want large trafficked properties near their homes, the neighbors have gotten support from hundreds of other residents from throughout the community and the region and the country who are joining in because they hate Muslims, oppose mosques and like many uneducated Americans have no idea what the real facts are about Islam.
Many of the protestors at the Planning Commission meeting, August 13, and the City Council meeting, August 18, both last month, openly said that Muslims scare them. Many of the protestors focused on Islam and Muslims, with one man holding up a picture of a woman wearing a burqa – a complete body covering – and saying that this is what he opposes. (Click to read the story about the City Council meeting.)
Some of the protestors are Christian activists and “Christian home schoolers,” people who teach children at home outside of the public schools.
I oppose burqas, too. But I don’t oppose Islam. Islam is no different than Christianity or Judaism. The real difference is the lack of education Americans show to Islam compared to their personal knowledge of Christianity. After all, the majority of Americans are Christian, and much of the provocation against Islam comes from Christian religious whack jobs who are even crazier than some of the Muslim extremists who exist and are active not just in the Middle East and Arab World but also right here in America.
Yes, there are extremists and fanatics in Islam, but just as there are extremists and fanatics in Christianity and Judaism, too.
One aspect that has made this protest different from protests against mosques in other areas of the country is that many of the protestors include Chaldeans, who are Arabic speaking people from the Middle East.
Chaldeans don’t consider themselves Arabs, but they live in the Arab and Islamic World and have been persecuted and harassed by Islamic extremists and by Arab World tyrants and dictators. They have a real hatred of extreme Islam and are angry that moderate Muslims don’t speak out.
They really get upset when Moderate Muslims complain about Christians who complain that moderates don’t speak out.
I’m being attacked by Islamic extremists just for raising the issue. They want the mosque and they don’t care how other people feel, but that’s not what America is all about. We listen to everyone’s concerns and we, real Americans, weigh all the issues.
But in the case of the Sterling Heights Mosque plan, the real issue for most of the protestors is a hatred of Muslims, a fear of Islam, and racism.
The proposed mosque is near many residential homes. But it is just as near other non-residential property, like huge commercial businesses, industrial property, and retail establishments that cause traffic jams, bring excessive vehicle traffic, but are essential to the economic vitality of any community. General Dynamics, Chrysler, Ford, TRW all have huge plants nearby.
Just take a look at the map and see it for yourself.
America was founded on the principle that everyone has a right to practice their religion. That includes Christians, Jews and Muslims, too.
If motorists violate local driving laws, ticket them. But if Muslims follow the same rules that Christians and Jews follow in worshiping in their faith, they deserve the same courtesy and respect that all Americans are entitled to by our Constitution.
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