California Mosque Approved Despite Local Objections

By Rex Weiner

Published December 02, 2010, issue of December 17, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The five-member Temecula City Planning Commission voted unanimously to allow the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley to build a new mosque, rejecting the heated arguments of those opposed to the project. The decision came after a five-hour public hearing and impassioned speeches by 87 supporters and opponents, each of whom were allotted three minutes to address the panel. While speakers were nearly evenly divided between supporters and opponents, an observer told the Forward that about three quarters of those assembled in the packed hearing room at City Hall on December 1 were opposed to construction of the mosque.

Among those who supported the project were eight members of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Progressive Jewish Alliance, who made a two-hour trip to attend the hearing. PJA Regional Director Eric Greene told the Forward: “Last night, we heard a lot of irrational fears and they’re the same irrational fears that many of our ancestors heard when they came to America. We cannot stand idly by — we have an obligation to stand up when we see injustice and inequality — that’s the Jewish thing to do. We know from experience that when the rights of some are trampled, the rights of all are threatened.”

On December 2, an exhausted Imam Mahmoud Harboush told the Forward that he and his congregation were grateful to the planning commission for “being very professional and diligent,” and he cited the many supporters who had shown up, including “our Jewish friends from the Progressive Alliance.” He said the vote and the statements of supporters at the hearing “shows that not all the people in the Temecula Valley agree with the bigotry expressed some others.”

Among those who were unhappy with the decision was mosque opponent Diana Serafin. She alleged that the traffic report approved by the planning commission was “bogus,” and the commission’s vote itself was invalid. “It was pre-determined,” she told the Forward, and said she was confident that an appeal would be filed.

Opponents of the project have 15 days to file an appeal, which would put the matter up for a vote before the Temecula City Council sometime in January. A vote by the city council to approve the project could still be challenged in court.

The Islamic Center of Temecula Valley currently meets in a business warehouse. It has plans to build a new mosque, estimated to cost between $2.5 million and $3 million, on vacant land at a different site.

Contact Rex Weiner at feedback@forward.com






Find us on Facebook!
  • Yeshiva University's lawyer wanted to know why the dozens of former schoolboys now suing over a sexual abuse cover-up didn't sue decades ago. Read the judge's striking response here.
  • It’s over. The tyranny of the straight-haired, button nosed, tan-skinned girl has ended. Jewesses rejoice!
  • It's really, really, really hard to get kicked out of Hebrew school these days.
  • "If Netanyahu re-opens the settlement floodgates, he will recklessly bolster the argument of Hamas that the only language Israel understands is violence."
  • Would an ultra-Orthodox leader do a better job of running the Met Council?
  • So, who won the war — Israel or Hamas?
  • 300 Holocaust survivors spoke out against Israel. Did they play right into Hitler's hands?
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.