Some residents of Riverside County, California are up in arms about a proposed new mosque that they fear will ruin the view of tract homes and freeways, while breeding "Islamic extremists" and offering a safe haven to terrorist "sleeper cells."
The loudest opponent to the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley's plan to build a mosque on a four acre plot in Temecula is a Baptist preacher. Pastor Bill Rench, from the Calvary Baptist Church, is voicing his concerns about the mosque, which would be directly across a cul-de-sac from his church. He told the Los Angeles Times that, "The Islamic foothold is not strong here, and we really don't want to see their influence spread." Rench says that Christianity and Islam "mix like oil and water," and he has warned against a "confrontational atmosphere" if the mosque is built.
There is a concern with all the rumors you hear about sleeper cells and all that. Are we supposed to be complacent just because these people say it's a religion of peace? Many others have said the same thing."
The Islamic center has been raising money for the last 10 years to build on the site. Next month, the plan will go before the Temecula Planning Commission for approval. Some church groups are supportive of the plan, like Rev. Joe Zarro from the Interfaith Council of Temecula and Murrieta Valley: "It's important for people to see our neighbors, and for them to be part of our community." The center's imam, Mahmoud Harmoush, told the paper, "Our children go to the same schools their children go to. We shop at the same stores where they shop." He said he hopes the group that opposes the mosque is small. They might be small, but they're vocal:
Karen Fesini, who belongs to a Republican women's group in the Temecula and Murrieta area, said she's been making calls to warn her friends about the project.
"They say they're not radicals, but how do we know?"' said Fesini, 68.
"Right now we're at war with the Taliban and the Muslims and our boys are over there fighting and dying for our freedom. What would it be like if they come home and found out we just let them in the front door?"