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Thursday, September 01, 2016
Anyone who follows the news even in passing can’t help but notice that many new mosques across the nation face blind challenges similar to the ones the Orland Park Center has faced. My thanks to Jason George for his article, “New mosque a ‘labor of love,’” (Local News, June 22) which contributes to a balanced perspective of Islamic relations in the West.
A Muslim community choosing Milton, Massachusetts for its new mosque in 1991 likewise faced an outcry that culminated in the defensive purchase of the parcel out from under the hopeful Muslim congregation.
In 2000, similar measures were taken here in Palos Heights, Illinois when the city and residents worked to block the Muslim purchase of a vacated church, claiming it was suddenly needed for ‘recreational’ purposes. This kind of anxiety-based reaction seems to be a trend.
Thankfully, these forms of disruption are not the only trend. Another has been the proactive work of the Muslim community to try to dispel, in advance, local apprehensions ranging ‘from traffic to terrorism.’ Though the initial reaction to the Orland Park center is disheartening, I’m optimistic that the community will respond graciously, and will dialogue with their new neighbors who have already proven eager and responsive. My hope for Rev. Lyons, who has declared himself open to the religious differences America offers, is that he will join the community in taking advantage of the learning opportunity the Orland Park center can represent.
To see the construction of a mosque discussed in terms of love, faith, and generosity rather than the age-old masks of traffic and terrorism is a comfort and, I think, finally a fair response to such news.
Here we see recognition for the efforts of many Muslims who patiently educate their communities despite ongoing discrimination. My congratulations to Dr. Krad and Mr. Malik Ali for their dedication, and thanks to Mr. George for an even-handed treatment.