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A Mosque? Not In This New Jersey Town

A Mosque? Not In This New Jersey Town

 

The suburban town of Bridgewater in central New Jersey is finding itself in the news for less than flattering reasons. A recent New York Times editorial has called attention to the affluent town’s lack of tolerance for the building of a mosque within its borders.

In January, a Muslim congregation, alFalah, filed to turn the former Redwood Inn into a mosque and religious school, with additional facilities for a day care center, after school programs and a center for senior citizens. The Bridgewater’s township council, planning board and Mayor Patricia Flannery proceeded to push through a zoning change according to which houses of worship could not operate on the inn’s property. The zoning change was made just before May 5, when a state statute that would have permitted the mosque to be built went into effect.

In its “reexamination report,” the township cited “traffic concerns,” although an earlier report “found no such issues, and both the town’s traffic expert and the county’s planning board found that the mosque would have only a minimal effect on traffic.” Says the New Jersey Jewish News:

Some area residents, including members of the Somerset County Tea Party, said they were troubled about traffic congestion and “land-use issues.”

“The fact that the center would contain a Muslim, rather than Christian or Jewish, house of worship doesn’t trouble me at all,” Tea Party spokesperson James Lefkowitz told NJJN in February.

But as Etzion Neuer, NJ regional director of the Anti-Defamation League which is supporting alFalah’s right to build the mosque, said after visiting the site in July:

“The site is in a commercial zone. It is set back and blocked by high trees all around. There have been arguments put forth by the folks in the area, and after reviewing their complaints we were not convinced by their arguments. The reasons given to block the mosque were not terribly compelling.”

Honestly, it’s not too hard to cite “traffic concerns” when proposals arise to build anything in New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the US. As Neuer comments,

“This attempt to create zoning ex post facto has some rather sinister elements to it.”

AlFalah had rented the Redwood Inn space since 2008, when the inn had closed. At that time, the inn could be used as a house of worship under a Bridgewater zoning ordinance. But then alFalah sought to buy the property and convert it into an Islamic center; on March 14, the Bridgewater Township Council passed a new law “restricting houses of worship, schools, and country clubs to major roads in the township.” After two months, the Muslim congregation sued Bridgewater and the members of its council and planning board, saying that the new law violated the New Jersey Law against Discrimination and the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which “gives religious groups wide latitude in circumventing local zoning laws that restrict houses of worship.”

In June, a federal judge ruled that a lawsuit challenging the town’s decision can go forward and the case is currently pending before the United States District Court in Trenton. The US Justice Department is also conducting its own investigation.

The mosque has won the support of an interfaith coalition, says the New Jersey Jewish News, which points out that Bridgewater has 17 churches, a Catholic convent, a synagogue, two Hindu temples and one Sikh temple. Rabbi Eric J. Greenberg, coordinator of the Interfaith Coalition on Mosques, says that “There certainly has not been opposition to synagogues and churches that includes the kind of bigotry we’ve seen against mosques.”

As the New York Times says, Mayor Michael Bloomburg has “rightly stood up for religious liberty against vitriolic opposition to the construction of an Islamic center in Lower Manhattan”; the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has allowed for the project to proceed, amid heated Islamophobic rhetoric.

Surely Bridgewater, New Jersey, could do the right thing, too?

 

Related Care2 Coverage

Minnesota Mosque Approved With Only Minor Protest

Muslim-Americans Are The Most Optimistic Religious Group

God’s House: Coexisting in Sweden

 

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95 comments

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6:11AM PDT on Apr 30, 2013

Good for them! Muslims need to stop coming here and freaking everybody out with their non American ways.

8:27PM PST on Feb 1, 2012

This is why we have separation of church and state. If these Muslims that you hate so much break the law, they should be dealt with just like anybody else; trying to deny their right to worship their faith is an embarrassment to the concept of freedom of religion in this country.

I'm neither a Muslim nor a Christian, but since you're allowed to believe in and preach your stupid mythology, why shouldn't they be?

7:18PM PDT on Oct 6, 2011

Go Bridgewater!

6:45PM PDT on Sep 24, 2011

If you will note, that the article brings up the coordinator of an interfaith council, who happens to be Jewish, who sees nothing wrong with the mosque.

1:11PM PDT on Sep 22, 2011

Muslims put Hitler to shame. Hitler victimized one group of people. No other religion on earth victimizes women, children and animals more than the Muslim religion and BILLIONS of them. They are going around the world in all countries now and trying to take over. In America they are hiding behind freedom of religion. There was a documentary on CNN about a bunch of Muslims who bought a large piece of land where they want to build a Mosque in Indiana. The locals are protesting. Interestingly the Muslims can't find anybody to BUILD the Mosque. haha The Muslims got on TV and said they don't care if anybody doesn't want them there, they are gonna build. They are laughing in our faces. They try to pass themselves off as "peaceful" people. Right....their "bible" instructs them to "kill the infidel" and that's US. The "infidel" is anybody who ISN'T Muslim. They ALL aren't terrorists unless
they get a CHANCE.

8:58AM PDT on Sep 22, 2011

Would you like to be awoken by Allahu Akbar chants in your neighborhood from the mosque? Those are the same words that are usually changed by terrorist who are about plunging planes into WTO or the likes of that Fort Hood psychiatrist who murdered 13 of his colleagues. Allahu akbar (God is great) hdd become a war cry of Islamic terrorists!

Would you like swastika painted on buildings in your neighborhoods? It was an Indian arian symbol appropriated by the Nazis in Germany. I still shudder when travelling in India I see this symbol because it signified death and destruction and Holocaust. Same with allahu akbar that had been used by the terrorists!

8:51AM PDT on Sep 22, 2011

While it is true that ALL religions have their own fanatics their numbers pale in comparison with Islamic fanatics which according to some studies number 20% of ALL (1,600 millions) Muslims in the world, which means 300 millions of crazed men ready to murder and die for Allah! Considering that there are only total of 14 millions of Jews whom those fanatics hate because of Koranic Jew-hating verses amplified by Hadith, having 300 millions delusional Jew haters is of concern fore any civilized person on Earth.

Most Muslim countries have refused signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights because it is contrary to sharia and suras in Koran which teach apartheid and midogyni. For those who still think that Islam is like any other main street religion that needs to be tolerated, read Koran...it is available on-line although perhaps the Jihadists have modified it to hide the delusional Jew-hatred and extolling the "eternal" life, while dissing the Jews for preferring the ordinary life on Earth. With such exultation of after-life it is not surprising that young Muslim men are easily snared into blowing themselves up while murdering Jews and Americans. When facing grim future (brought by corrupt dysfunctional societies in which they live in most Muslim countries) they think it preferable to get a fast ticket to Paradise with 72 virgins ;-)!

Also, don't forget that Muslims take as a role model a pedophile polygamist who married Aisha when she was 6 and had sex with

8:41AM PDT on Sep 22, 2011

Arthur W. I don't need to read this article to know what happened -- I live around the corner from The Redwood Inn and attended many hours of public hearing testimony on this matter. If all you know is what you read in the media, you're only seeing one side of the story. Yes an ordinance was enacted but it applies to all houses of worship and not just this mosque and it didn't "ban" it, just said they needed a variance since the road is insufficient. There is nothing intolerant or bigoted about protecting neighborhood streets from increased traffic -- there are abundant areas where a mosque could be built in this town which offer safe road access, but instead of working with Bridgewater to choose one of those, the plaintiffs sued and started a PR campaign. Property owners everywhere should be aware -- courtesy of a federal law named RLUIPA, a high intensity use may be coming to a quiet neighborhood near you. RLUIPA attempts to elevate religious groups' rights above those of homeowners or municipalities in zoning decisions and has the potential to wreak havoc on quiet, residential neighborhoods nationwide, especially when it's used as a sword, rather than a shield.

6:44AM PDT on Sep 22, 2011

Moly H - Read the article again. Immediately after the Muslims indicated their intention to turn the Inn into a Mosque, the Mayor and Council rushed an ordinance change in to forbid it.
Quite a coincidence! Given the bigoted attitude of many Americans toward religions not their own, no doubt further depression of property values (and thus local tax income) was a concern.

I did not claim to be an expert on NJ - except on some of its remarkable Geology. I have been thru and within it many times, including studying its rocks close up. Eyes, ears and nose provide lots of information about other things not so pleasant.

10:19PM PDT on Sep 21, 2011

molly h as soon as anybody says no to muslims no matter the reason they are shouting that you are violating their rights and then head right to court. they don't care about anybody else they want it all and by damn the government will give it to them or else. you can't reason with terrorists even if they don't have bombs.

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