Monday, November 23, 2015

"Meeting about Virginia mosque exposes deep divide"

Anti-Muslim sentiment has been rapidly increasing since the attacks in Paris.  Last week, this issue took on a land use angle when a meeting over the traffic impacts of the expansion of a mosque in Spotsylvania County, Virginia became deeply contentious, not over traffic, but about the fact that Muslims are in Virginia at all. As the Washington Post reports:

The meeting was intended to address traffic concerns around the proposed religious center but instead was taken over by half a dozen angry protesters calling the Muslim residents terrorists.

The outbursts of hatred came amid rising calls across the country to pause or end resettlement of Muslim refugees in the United States. Fredericksburg and the counties surrounding it have become popular places for Middle Eastern refugees lured by low housing prices and available jobs. But the fast-growing area 50 miles south of Washington retains a conservative and rural character. . .

The would-be mosque-builders were accused of planning a site for Syrian refugees or illegal immigrants. Attendee Elizabeth Wiley, 59, said that one of the protesters threatened her. “He said, ‘Yes, ma’am, I am threatening all of you,’ ” she recalled. A sheriff’s deputy stopped the meeting shortly after that encounter, according to the posted video. But Wiley and others said they wished the disrupters had been removed and detained.

However, "[s]ince the meeting was reported in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, the Islamic Center has been flooded with letters and gestures of support."

Troubling times.

Jamie Baker Roskie

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