Jewish Journal


August 9, 2010

Anti-Islam NIMBYs going nationwide?


All this talk lately about mosques opening and closing and being fought by the locals. Here’s a piece from Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times about the battles being waged in the ‘burbs and the big city:

In Murfreesboro, Tenn., Republican candidates have denounced plans for a large Muslim center proposed near a subdivision, and hundreds of protesters have turned out for a march and a county meeting.

In late June, in Temecula, Calif., members of a local Tea Party group took dogs and picket signs to Friday prayers at a mosque that is seeking to build a new worship center on a vacant lot nearby.

In Sheboygan, Wis., a few Christian ministers led a noisy fight against a Muslim group that sought permission to open a mosque in a former health food store bought by a Muslim doctor.

At one time, neighbors who did not want mosques in their backyards said their concerns were over traffic, parking and noise — the same reasons they might object to a church or a synagogue. But now the gloves are off.

In all of the recent conflicts, opponents have said their problem is Islam itself. They quote passages from the Koran and argue that even the most Americanized Muslim secretly wants to replace the Constitution with Islamic Shariah law.

These local skirmishes make clear that there is now widespread debate about whether the best way to uphold America’s democratic values is to allow Muslims the same religious freedom enjoyed by other Americans, or to pull away the welcome mat from a faith seen as a singular threat.

Disagree. These local skirmishes make clear that there are lots of people who don’t want Islam in their community because they believe Islam is inherently violent and intolerant and that it’s only a matter of time before the moderate Muslims figure this out. But hasn’t that been the case for a few years now?

It’s also a stretch to that there “is now widespread debate.” About the Ground Zero Mosque—yes. But not about mosques in any random community. Though even those plans are being fought, it’s not based on a widespread debate but on old-fashioned religious NIMBYism.

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