South Bay News

Islamic center plan moves forward but not without opposition

Friday, August 03, 2012

South Bay Muslims who have been trying to build an Islamic community center for six years gained a victory Thursday night. The project has had strong opposition from the start. The center, which includes a mosque, would be built on a vacant lot in San Martin.

"This is about political bigotry; people that are being intolerant and don't like how their community is changing," United Voices for America spokesperson Ahmed Bedier said.

The frustration during Thursday's Santa Clara County Planning Commission meeting was palatable as the South Valley Islamic community asked for a use permit to build a community center in San Martin.

The Cordoba Center would contain a mosque, a hall and a cemetery.

The proposed site along Monterey Highway has been met with opposition since its inception.

"I do believe they've picked the wrong area for a church," San Martin resident Dwight Summers said.

The South Valley Islamic community started their quest to build a mosque there six years ago. In that time they've tested the soil, water, septic tanks, congestion, and percolation ponds.

According to the Planning Commission, they've passed all of those tests, which is why many Muslims believe there's another reason they're not wanted.

"We should not be holding this center at a different standard than other places of worship, which brings concern of elements of Islamaphobia," Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesperson Sameena Usman said.

"It's about fear, it's about ignorance, and it's about twisted logic," Morgan Hill resident Mostafa Elkassad said.

Project opponents strongly disagree with that characterization. Though they were a minority in the room Thursday, they've always been very vocal about their concerns.

"They're thinking it has to do with being a bigot or not wanting them there; it's not that, the fact is these are people who live in a flood zone, it's a rural area," Gilroy/Morgan Hill Patriots spokesperson Georgine Scott-Codiga said.

"Some people are going to use water concerns as a cover for that hatred," South Valley Islamic community member Melindah Bush said.

In the end, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to grant the use permit. Opponents plan to appeal that decision and take it up before the board of supervisors next month.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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religion, south bay news, lisa amin gulezian
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