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Racist reaction to mosque plan a too-familiar public response

2 February 2011 General 3 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

Let’s be honest — the fervent opposition to a proposed mosque in Bridgewater is being fueled in significant part by racism.

There’s no point in pretending otherwise. There’s no reason to jump through rhetorical hoops to suggest that it’s really about traffic or quality of life or noise or any of the other complaints that usually accompany new projects.

No, this is about American fears of Muslims and their “strange” religious beliefs and the terrorist acts of a small subsection of Islamic fanatics. One resident said the mosque “represents a coming in and taking over an entire community by the Islamic World.”

Not exactly an enlightened comment, although that only highlights the thoughts of one person. Still, is anyone going to try and argue that such apparent prejudice is an anomaly, a unique bit of ugliness in a community that would otherwise widely embrace a mosque? Where the only project concerns are about logistics and infrastructure?

We’ve seen this kind of resistance before in Central Jersey and we’ll see it again, whenever a proposed new “foreign” house of worship emerges. It even happened in Bridgewater recently when the Sri Venkateswara Hindu temple on Route 202/206 generated resistance in the township and from neighboring Raritan Borough.

Most people tread carefully around this subject when it emerges, taking pains to find “legitimate” reasons to object to a project or to characterize the objections of others. Too often, however, such caution only masks much harsher perceptions. And some don’t particularly care how they sound — they just don’t want more immigrants around.

It’s a sad and disheartening indictment of a society that is increasingly making a lie out of the American melting pot.

Perhaps there will be valid zoning reasons to give Bridgewater officials pause in approving the project. If the mosque plans are rejected, it would be entirely unfair to suggest the decision was a biased one. And we believe that many township residents would indeed welcome the mosque without hesitation.

But there’s no escaping the reality that the community’s reaction to the project is, in part, racist. Bridgewater certainly isn’t unusual in that way. But that doesn’t make the response any less shameful, wherever it occurs.

Original post: Racist reaction to mosque plan a too-familiar public response

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3 Comments »

  1. There is no excuse for denying building permit for any place of worship of any faith, ever!

  2. And some don’t particularly care how they sound — they just don’t want more immigrants around.

    Who said these are immigrants? If I were building a church or a synagogue or a secular community center, it would logically be to serve the people of the community. It really irks me to see that so many people see Muslims as separate from Americans rather than a subset thereof.

  3. Immigrants? I am Muslim and I am far from being an immigrant. My ancestors have been here since before the birth of, and helped to build our great nation. They built libraries and founded towns. They fought for our freedoms before we had any freedoms, and continued to fight for those freedoms through all of the wars and conflicts. There have been muslims here for centuries. I am Muslim by choice because it reflects my beliefs. I wear hijab and abaya (Muslim style modest clothing) by choice. It makes no sense whatsoever to dress as though you are undressed then wonder why so many women are treated as sex objcts; why there is so much rape, STDs, abortions,unwanted babies, and the list goes on. My soabox can get very lengthy so I had better stop here.

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