Freedom set aside in place of Islamic appeasement
by, Leo Hohmann | WND | h/t Jessica Watchman
KENNESAW, Ga. – The Kennesaw City Council approved a land-use permit for a new mosque less than two weeks after it had denied the permit, citing traffic and parking concerns.
The council voted 4-1 to deny the permit Dec. 3, but after legal threats from the Suffa Dawat Center, the council reversed its earlier decision with a 5-0 vote Monday. The vote was taken without discussion as six police officers lined the walls of the council chambers and another contingent of officers patrolled outside where about 25 protesters from Overpasses for America and the Georgia Security Force militia held American flags and signs saying “No Mosque!” and “Ban Islam!”
Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews told WSB-TV in Atlanta that the council changed its vote due to “legal advice from our own city attorney, not based on input received from the public or anybody else.”
Mosque members were pleased with Monday’s outcome.
“I think we have achieved success for the whole community including those who oppose us,” Khalid Hashmi told WSB.
“The Bible says love thy neighbor. Our religion teaches love your neighbor,” said Samir Malik.
But the protesters outside weren’t buying it.
Capt. Linc Doberman of the Georgia Security Force told WND he believes Islam is more than just a religion and should be treated as such.
“The imams in the mosques are all striving towards the establishment of a caliphate and you can’t have a constitutional republic along with a caliphate,” he said. “So you can allow it to continue creeping in, until you feel the deep, red welts of domination.”
One of the protesters yelled at the Muslims as they filed out of city hall saying; “We will never respect Islam! We will never convert!”
Suffa Dawat applied for the permit to lease a space in a retail shopping plaza that is zoned for commercial use. A residential neighborhood sits directly behind the strip shopping center, and neighbors were not happy about the prospect of hearing the Friday call to prayer blasting near their homes. The mosque has entered into a two-year lease.
Suffa Dawat had the backing of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, a wealthy Islamic-rights organization founded by the Muslim Brotherhood.
The city council’s flip-flop angered residents who had come out against the mosque. But residents were not allowed to speak for or against the mosque until after the vote was taken.
One Kennesaw woman, Carlene Fregeolle, addressed the council after the vote. She said she met with the Muslims and found they had not disclosed all of their plans for the building on their application.
The mosque will be open for prayer five times a day, for the weekly call to prayer on Fridays and also for an educational program for children on Sundays. The city restricted the mosque to 80 worshipers at a time and 40 parking spaces.
“They said they’re expecting about 80 children on Sundays. So, again, no worries about traffic and parking issues? Really? We’re now talking kids and lots of them,” Fregeolle said.
“Everything was done behind the scenes,” Fregeolle continued. “If they don’t get their way they sue. Our city council is afraid to stand behind their own zoning laws.”
Local media were reporting a federal complaint had been filed with the U.S. Department of Justice and that the DOJ had threatened a lawsuit.
Fregeolle asked the council if that were indeed the case.
“I can answer that. No, the DOJ has not come in and has not threatened a lawsuit,” said city attorney Randall Bentley.
As a neighbor who lives closest to the mosque, Fregeolle said the Muslims lied to the city about her attitudes toward the new house of worship.
“They told the council I wouldn’t mind,” she said. “Again, that is false information. … By your flip-flopping you have made the city even more vulnerable.”
Suffa Dawat Center has also opened an online fundraising account with YouCaring.com with the goal of raising $30,000 for “legal costs and startup costs for Kennesaw Mosque.”
The legal expenses will apparently no longer be needed given the council’s about face.
Fregeolle said that if any other applicant had applied for the same space using the same tactics they would have been denied.
“But with this group you have to be PC,” she said.
Council member Debra Williams, who voted against the mosque the first time, changed her vote, as did council members Leonard Church, Tim Killingsworth and Jim Sebastian. Cris Eaton Welsh was the only member who voted in favor of the mosque both times.
The decision came down to costs, Williams said, and the threat of an expensive lawsuit in federal court.
“We denied a nightclub there a few months ago and we argued the same thing – traffic, noise and parking,” she told WND. “And it would have operated at night when all the other businesses were closed and they were willing to put in sound-proof walls. They should sue our pants off.”
Williams told WND that even if the Justice Department hadn’t yet threatened a lawsuit the attorneys for the Islamic congregation were keeping the DOJ abreast of the situation with the city.
When it came down to it, Williams said, the council was not willing to risk a lawsuit being filed on the basis of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, signed into law by President Clinton in 2000.
This law makes it difficult for cities to deny a house of worship a conditional-use permit based on zoning laws.
In the end, “RLUIPA trumps,” she said.
Cobb County, just northwest of Atlanta, already has two other mosques but members of Suffa Dawat, which includes about 18 families, said they had to drive too far to attend those mosques. The site in Kennesaw is 10.8 miles from one of the mosques and about nine miles from the other.
Karen Lugo, a California attorney with expertise in RLUIPA, said it is possible to defeat a suit based on the federal law if the city is properly prepared.
“Federal statute, RLUIPA, trumps almost everything. Cities, counties are not allowed to substantially burden a religious organization and cannot discriminate between a religious and a business use,” she said.
If a city has already allowed churches to locate in a retail center in the last two to three years, as Kennesaw has done, that makes it even tougher to deny the same type of use to a mosque.
Once a mosque is approved in a residential or commercial area, it often expands into uses that were never spelled out upfront at the time of application, Lugo said, causing friction with nearby residents. This can be handled with clear ordinances drawn up ahead of time, but otherwise it’s difficult to rein in a mosque after it gets approved under vague or poorly written ordinances.
“This type of use is different. It’s not just Sunday morning and Wednesday night service, this is 24/7 prayer services,” she said. “So this is difficult when cities are not willing to enforce their special-use terms or if they are not clearly written and interpreted. This is when it becomes really difficult to come back later and say ‘oh we did not anticipate this and you misrepresented yourself.’ They will often complain that it’s restricting something core to their religion.”
If the parameters are set clearly, upfront, the city is in better position later should any complaints arise from residents about traffic, noise or parking issues.
“If there are examples of restrictions due to the nature of the property, like no daycare due to traffic, no schools, no meetings other than on certain specified days of the week, etc., the city will be better off,” she said. “The courts still allow religious uses but if they’re shared in a conditional use with something that is not a designated multi-use then the courts allow terms for reasonable restrictions.
“For years cities didn’t think they had to pay attention to RLUIPA,” Lugo said. “They have neglected to build in proper, reasonably based restrictions that can be enforced. That’s what I have been trying to help council members understand.”
But most cities are ill prepared for dealing with mosques, because they assume they will operate just like churches.
For example, in Bloomington, Minnesota, a mosque was approved under the pretense of accommodating a maximum of 200 people, but now residents are seeing events that bring in excess of 700 people and the accompanying traffic problems.
“To date there has not been enough express language in the permits saying if you go over this number then you need to hire your own traffic guides, etc.,” Lugo said.
Mosques are geared towards recreation, communal meals and five prayer times starting at dawn and going to dusk, “and including all facets of family life,” she said. “It’s a different kind of use, more active, more frequent, and that’s what cities need to know going in. They need to understand RLUIPA will prevail and it’s so ambiguous, so short of Congress clarifying it the courts are all over the map in how they’re interpreting this law.”
She said the law was the brainchild or Sens. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, and the late Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.
“Some of these Islamic organizations have gotten what looks like preferential treatment because they have been able to threaten and not give all the facts,” she said. “Cities need to make it clear that they expect applicants to be honest and everyone to go through the same process no matter who you are.
“Back up, ask for clear and complete answers. How many cars? Are the existing lanes able to handle the traffic? And once they set a precedent saying a religious group can have five to seven services per day then they have to keep saying yes to that kind of request in the future.”
In other words, Pandora’s box has been opened.
“They’re creating a whole new level of use,” Lugo said. “It has to be done deliberately and with the understanding that they’re creating an example that will be referenced in the future.
“Cool heads need to prevail and do this in a real measured process.”
‘..Iraqi Churches Now Being Used as Prisons of Torture..’
by, Thomas Wyke | International Business Times (IBT) | h/t Trop
Iraqi Christians are reportedly being tortured in local churches by Islamic State in northern Iraq.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, a Christian resident from the Islamic State-held city of Mosul, said: “These two churches are being used as prisons and for torture. Three of the Christian prisoners died because they were sick and nobody cared for them.”
The man, known as Abu Aasi, claims that Christian prisoners in the churches are being forced to convert and that Islamic State have been “breaking all the crosses and statues of Mary”.
Whilst the claim could not be independently verified, thousands of Christians have fled Mosul since the city was seized by Islamic State in August 2014.
Islamic State’s determination to impose its radical interpretation of Shariah law has left many local civilians living in fear.
Photos have been released by Islamic State showing the harsh measures being imposed by the extremist group. Images show three men being whipped for drinking wine in Iraq. According to the local Islamic State media branch, the punishment took place in the Iraqi province of Kirkuk.
The photos show a large crowd of men, including a number of young boys, stand in a circle watching the punishment. Several of the crowd are holding the black flag of Islamic State whilst a number of Islamic State fighters stand guard.
Kneeling on a large green patterned carpet, the three men are shown with their hands unbound, resting on their laps. All three of the men appear to be in their late 40s and can be seen staring down at the ground.
A masked Islamic State fighter, wearing all black clothes is pictured whipping each man a number of times. The whip appears to be about half an arm’s length in size and made of leather. Secured with black tape, the tails of the whip are shown connecting sharply with the covered skin of each man.
The final photo shows the victims being hugged by another Islamic State fighter, carrying an AK-47.
Photos have also emerged of a man accused of adultery, being whipped in the Syrian town of Manbij.
The photos shows a bearded Islamic State fighter, reading out the crimes of the accused over a microphone. The man is shown with his robe pulled over his head to reveal his back. Leaning against a pickup truck, the man is whipped by an Islamic State fighter.
Like the photos of the three men in Kirkuk being whipped for drinking wine, the final photo shows the adulterer embracing Islamic State fighter who read out his crimes.
by, Victor Fiorillo | Philadelphia Magazine | h/t Creeping Sharia | h/t Robert Chidester
Bensalem has its fair share of churches and other houses of worship. The Bucks County township of 60,000 has Catholic churches, Protestant churches, synagogues, a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall, and a Buddhist Temple. And there are two Hindu temples under development. But if you’re a Bensalem Muslim, you’re out of luck, because Bensalem doesn’t have a mosque. Instead, local Muslims meet once a week for Friday prayers inside a rented fire hall.
The Bensalem Masjid, a religious organization with some 200 families in its congregation, wants to change that but says that Bensalem Township and its Zoning Hearing Board haven’t exactly rolled out the red carpet for its proposed mosque (rendering above) on the 3800 block of Hulmeville Road, which has several other houses of worship within a one-mile radius. And now the group has filed a lawsuit (below) against the township and the board in federal court.
The group has been looking for property for its mosque since 2008. And due to zoning regulations in Bensalem, you can’t just erect a mosque — or any other house of worship — wherever you want.
The Bensalem Masjid says that it tried to buy existing houses of worship, which would already be zoned correctly, but none were interested in selling. It put in bids on other properly zoned parcels, but those bids were rejected or went unanswered. Finally, the group found a 4.58-acre, three-parcel stretch of property on Hulmeville Road that would be perfect for its needs — big enough for a cafeteria, a school, and all of the other facilities they wanted to bring to the Muslims in the area — but the group of properties weren’t zoned for house-of-worship use. And so, the Bensalem Masjid went before the zoning board to try to get a variance.
In February, the board expressed certain concerns about the project, and so the group changed its physical plans, eliminating a proposed basement and cafeteria. Another hearing was held. And another. And another. In total, six hearings were held, making the process one of the longest — if not the longest zoning hearing process — in Bensalem’s history.
Board members questioned the Masjid about parking and traffic. One board member expressed concern that the mosque would bring in Muslims from New Jersey and nearby Philadelphia.
Community members were invited to air their concerns about the project. One suggested that unlike a church or synagogue, the mosque wouldn’t bring the same kind of benefit to the overall community that a synagogue or church would bring.
The fears of another community member who spoke were a little more clear:
…mosques have patterns and the pattern of mosques has been that when they — when the congregants outgrow the mosque, they spill out on to the streets. And what they do is they — they block — pull up blockades and they bring out their rugs, and they put them down on the street, and they do their prayers out on the streets. I have a video of this if you would like to see to back it up, in several cities around the world … What they do is they put up their barricades and they lay their carpets down on the street and they pray. And it takes them 45 minutes. It draws a lot of people, and it creates problems for the businesses on that street because they cannot do commerce because nobody can get in or out of their stores.
The Masjid brought in at least 10 expert witnesses to testify on its behalf — from a civil engineer and traffic experts to an Islamic theologian — but the board still said no. And the group contends that the same board granted variances to other nearby religious organizations similarly restricted by the zoning laws. The variance obtained in April to build a Hindu temple on the site of a restaurant was reportedly not met with significant objection.
So is this Islamophobia at work?
“We can’t see into their hearts, so we judge them by their conduct,” says Ryan Tack-Hooper, the Masjid’s attorney from the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who suggests that the board’s concerns over traffic and parking were unfounded and that the board didn’t make an issue out of traffic and parking for others houses of worship in the area. “It’s very clear that they treated this case differently than they treated other faith centers. There’s definitely some prejudice at work here.”
In its lawsuit, the Masjid accuses Bensalem and the board of violating laws regarding religious land use, Pennsylvania’s Municipal Planning Code and Religious Freedom Protection Act, and the group’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
The zoning board’s attorney could not be reached for comment, and an attorney representing the township did not immediately return a call seeking comment. One board member, realtor Joanne Redding, hung up on us when we tried to ask her about the mosque.
Mosque initiative defeated in 4-1 city council vote
by, Patrick Howell O’Neill | The Daily Dot | h/t Jack Hansen
A small Georgia city has voted to ban an Islamic group from renting a retail space to open a temporary mosque in the city, even after the landlord agreed to the deal.
The City Council of Kennesaw, a city of about 30,000 people in north Georgia, ultimately voted down the Muslim group’s request 4-1.
The issue has engendered a lot of tension in the town, and from critics outside of it. To give you a small idea of the intensity of the attitudes at play, here’s the video’s description from the man who recorded this week’s City Council vote: “The scumbag lawyer for the terrorist org. says he will sue… good luck with that.”
Attorney Doug Dillard called the decision unconstitutional and “a blatant attack on First Amendment rights.” He says the group will continue to fight and is strongly considering a federal lawsuit against the city.
Anti-Muslim protesters stood outside the meeting with signs such as “Ban Islam” and “Islam Wants No Peace!” but the issue of religion didn’t actually come up in the meeting itself.
That was deliberate. Mayor Mark Matthews forbade comment from the public about religion, so critics instead said they opposed the temporary mosque on the grounds of the center’s hours of operation, attendance, and parking.
The Muslim group had already agreed to limit attendance in the 2,200 square foot space to 80 worshipers at a time, building 40 parking spaces, and signing a two-year lease. In the end, it wasn’t nearly enough—because those were never the biggest issues at play.
A public hearing last month had no off-limit topics, so many citizens were blunt about their opposition to the mosque.
“I am first a Christian and then an American citizen,” resident Jo Talley said. “As a Christian I am to put no other God before my Lord, and I am also to love my neighbor. If you know me, then you know that I do my best to do those things … but I also have the right to protect myself. This project has to do with Sharia law.”
Resident Anthony Bonner said the debate was “bigger than just zoning and parking. This is bigger than right and wrong. This is not a religious debate. This is about a comment on the value and the merits of a community.”
In fact, the Marietta Daily Journal reports that the city allowed a Pentecostal church to rent a retail space for exactly the same purpose in July.
“You know, if Christianity were killing people, I’m pretty sure I would have a problem with it,” Pastor C.S. Clarke of the Redeemed Christian Fellowship Church told the media. “Then I would be concerned with that moving into my neighborhood. But, I’m open, I’m inclusive. Christianity does teach love, inclusiveness, creating a better environment for everyone.”
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Here is a comment from our source article:
Two Muslim terrorists members of the ‘New Black Panther Party’
by, Daniel Wallis | Reuters
Two men suspected of buying explosives they planned to detonate during protests in Ferguson, Missouri, once a grand jury decides the Michael Brown case, were arrested on Friday and charged with federal firearms offenses, a law enforcement official told Reuters.
Word of the arrests, reported by a number of media outlets Friday, came ahead of the grand jury’s widely anticipated decision on whether the white police officer who fatally shot Brown, an unarmed black teenager, should be indicted on criminal charges.
The Aug. 9 slaying of 18-year-old Brown under disputed circumstances became a flashpoint for U.S. racial tensions, triggering weeks of sometimes violent protests in the St. Louis suburb by demonstrators calling for officer Darren Wilson’s arrest.
He was instead placed on administrative leave, and Ferguson has been bracing for a new wave of protests, especially if the grand jury chooses not to indict Wilson. An announcement was believed to be imminent.
Against this backdrop of heightened tensions, according to a law enforcement source, two men described as reputed members of a militant group called the New Black Panther Party, were arrested in the St. Louis area in an FBI sting operation.
As initially reported by CBS News, the men were suspected of acquiring explosives for pipe bombs that they planned to set off during protests in Ferguson, according to the official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the case.
The official said the two men are the same pair named in a newly unsealed federal indictment returned on Nov. 19 charging Brandon Orlando Baldwin [aka. Brandon Mohammed] and Olajuwon Davis [aka. Olajuwon Ali] with purchasing two pistols from a firearms dealer under false pretenses.
Both men were arraigned on Friday in federal court, the law enforcement source said.
The FBI and other federal agencies were reported to have stepped up their presence in the St. Louis area in recent days in anticipation of renewed protests after the grand jury’s decision in the Brown case is made known.
An FBI official in St. Louis declined to comment except to say that the two men named in the indictment had been arrested. Officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for eastern Missouri were not immediately available for comment.
by, Sharona Schwartz | The Blaze
The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim American Society are each registering their outrage over reportedly being designated terrorist organizations by the United Arab Emirates.
The two American groups were listed alongside the Islamic State group, Al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood branches, as well as European Muslim groups in Italy, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Finland, Britain’s Cordoba Foundation and the Muslim Association of Britain. The full list, numbering 83 groups, was approved by the UAE cabinet Saturday and was posted by the official news agency WAM.
CAIR described its inclusion on the terrorism list as “shocking and bizarre” and called on the UAE government to remove them.
“There is absolutely no factual basis for the inclusion [of] CAIR and other American and European civil rights and advocacy groups on this list,” CAIR said in a statement Sunday.
“Like the rest of the mainstream institutions representing the American Muslim community, CAIR’s advocacy model is the antithesis of the narrative of violent extremists,” the group said. “We call on the United Arab Emirates cabinet to review this list and remove organizations such as CAIR, the Muslim American Society and other civil society organizations that peacefully promote civil and democratic rights and that oppose terrorism whenever it occurs, wherever it occurs and whoever carries it out.”
CAIR said it recently joined other Muslim-American leaders to release an open letter in Arabic “refuting the ideology of the terrorist group ISIS and urging its supporters to repent and ‘return to the religion of mercy.’”
The Muslim American Society said in its own statement that it was “shocked” to learn of its inclusion.
“The Muslim American Society is a religious community service organization that serves people in the United States. We have no dealings with the United Arab Emirates, and hence are perplexed by this news,” the group said. “Before proceeding any further, we would first like to verify the accuracy of the news reports and receive an official response from the United Arab Emirates regarding the reports. We would also like to seek the help of our government to address this issue.”
CAIR was named by federal prosecutors in 2007 along with about 300 others as an“unindicted co-conspirator” in a Hamas funding case connected with the Holy Land Foundation trial. Hamas has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. government since 2007. BuzzFeed noted that a federal judge later ruled that the government should not have included CAIR as a co-conspirator list, and CAIR was never charged with any crime.
CAIR, an Islamic advocacy group, was one of the organizations that sponsored the first Muslim prayer service held at the Washington National Cathedral on Friday.
The Associated Press noted that the UAE’s decision to include the Muslim Brotherhood on its terrorist group list followed similar terrorism designations for the Muslim Brotherhood by Saudi Arabia and Egypt.