Interfaith group backs mosque plan
By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel
Religious leaders in eastern Waukesha County are voicing their support for a planned mosque in Brookfield, as minor opposition to the project begins to foment in some quarters.
Members of the Brookfield-Elm Grove Interfaith Network were drafting a letter in support of Masjid Al’Noor, the mosque proposed by the Islamic Society of Milwaukee in an industrial area of the city.
“This is about the rights of decent human beings to have a place to worship,” said Rabbi Steven Adams of Congregation Emanu-El in Waukesha, who was drafting the letter on behalf of the group. “Part of our mission is to foster dialogue and support for religious expression, and we feel very strongly that this is in keeping with that.”
The Islamic Society has proposed a 12,950-square-foot mosque and community center on 4.25 acres in the 16000 block of Pheasant Drive, east of Calhoun Road. It hopes to break ground this summer and welcome worshippers a year later.
Mushir Hassan, a Brookfield physician and Islamic Society board member who is spearheading the project, said there are about 100 Muslim families within a four-mile radius of the site.
“We’ve been trying to get a permanent worshipping space in this area for at least 10 years,” he said.
The society has been working closely with the city on the project since it acquired the land in 2008.
The Brookfield Plan Commission will hold a public hearing on the project at 6:30 p.m. May 7. A separate meeting for nearby residents is planned for May 2.
City officials have fielded several emails and calls raising concerns about the project, most of it focused on the traffic, although some have expressed fears about radicalism and security.
Some opposition is likely to surface Tuesday at a 1 p.m. meeting of the conservative Eagle Forum at the Brookfield Public Library. A spokeswoman with the group said it will be briefed by a member of ACT for America, a national group described by itself as bulwark against radical Islam and by Muslims as a purveyor of rabid Islamophobia.
Brookfield Mayor Steven Ponto described the opposition so far as a vocal minority.
“Overall, I think Brookfield has a very highly educated, sophisticated population. And they understand that one of our great strengths is a respect for the religious rights of all people and a respect for different cultures,” he said.
Hassan said critics are misinformed about Islam and that concerns about traffic are overblown.
“The intersection (at Pheasant and Calhoun) already operates poorly 25 hours a week during rush hour, and we will add one hour of extra flow during a non-rush hour period,” he said. “If traffic is such a big issue, why aren’t they concerned about the other 25 hours?”
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