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An e-mail alert sent to area newspapers last week announced that a one-hour “singing – praying – patriotic rally” will begin at 12:30 p.m. July 30 at the Islamic Center’s existing facility. The advisory – sent by a leader of a conservative coalition that has been active with Republican and Tea Party functions – recommended participants “bring your Bibles, flags, signs, dogs and singing voices.”
“We will not be submissive,” the notice proclaimed. “Our voices are going to be heard!” The alert went on to question what its authors described as Islamic beliefs. It suggested that participants sing during the rally because Muslim “women are forbidden to sing.” It suggested that rally participants bring dogs because Muslims “hate dogs.”
The advisory asked rally participants to “please bring a pooper scooper” if they are accompanied by a canine companion. The advisory said residents of an unspecified Tennessee community were able to halt the construction of a mosque in that state.
Two things in this Valley News report bear mention. First, in addition to this seemingly completely crackpot protest-in-the-making, there appears to be a second line of attack that may be familiar to Ricochet members and readers: legalism.
Patrick Richardson, the city’s director of planning and redevelopment […] did not work for Temecula when a similar controversy surfaced over another proposed house of worship. He said he has since learned about the twists and turns that occurred when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints submitted a proposal nearly a decade ago to build a facility along Pauba Road.
The Mormon controversy contains parallels to the mosque proposal. […] The number of parking spaces proposed for the mosque exceeds the city’s requirements, Richardson said.
Because of traffic, noise and related concerns raised by a nearby pastor and others, the city has examined a range of issues as it has reviewed the development plan, he said.
Second, and more important, the proposed mosque is a new house of worship for local Muslims who have gathered at the local industrial park for over a decade. Only now does that community require an ‘anti-submissive’ protest? Only now does their development plan, “submitted to city planners about 1½ years ago,” trigger “widespread media coverage that has included stories by the Associated Press and newspapers based in Los Angeles and Riverside”?
The timing here relative to the Ground Zero Mosque controversy may be coincidental, and without placing a few phone calls to Temecula I suppose I can’t be sure, but I’m suspicious. The strength of the particular critique of Cordoba House is badly diluted by these kinds of abstract — and, yes, simply anti-Muslim — shenanigans, isn’t it? And this kind of publicity is exactly what the Tea Party doesn’t need, isn’t it? (It’s notable that the protest organizers state that one of their group’s missions is to “return the local Tea Party Movement to the people.”)
One more point must be raised. The latest LA Times report on the story contains this sentence:
The website calls the Islamic faith “a radically intolerant belief system that is incompatible with the freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.’’
Well, if you believe that, suddenly this protest makes a bit more sense. I don’t believe that — as a result of direct and indirect experience — but at least a few very smart people I know are convinced that Islamic theology really is inimical to constitutional democracy and American-style free society. I’d like to see them proven wrong, but I’m not an Islamic scholar by any stretch. And since this seems to be the issue at the heart of this and other would-be copycat mosque controversies, let’s get it out in the open and deal with it.