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Oshkosh mosque proposal draws opposition

By James Briggs

At least one type of building proposal is likely to stir more controversy than high-speed rail these days.

Wilson, a town in Sheboygan County, earlier this year approved a conditional-use permit allowing a Muslim group to convert a health-food store into a mosque. But the approval came after weeks of protest — and anti-Muslim rhetoric — from local residents.

Now, another Wisconsin city is facing a similar situation, as the Oshkosh Common Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to allow the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to convert an 8,000-square-foot funeral home on the city’s west side into a house of worship. The Muslim group has agreed to buy the building for about $300,000.

“We met with the neighborhood as much as we could to show them we understand their concerns,” said Khurram Ahmad, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. “We want to do as much as we can to minimize our impact on them.”

Still, several residents oppose the mosque and have hired an attorney, Brian Hamill, of Oshkosh-based Dempsey, Williamson, Kelly and Hertel LLP, to represent them. Hamill did not return a call seeking comment.

Although the discussion in Oshkosh has focused less on religion and more on traffic and noise control, Alderman Tony Palmeri said he thinks nervousness toward Islam has driven at least some of the opposition.

“There seems to be a subtext of discomfort with the idea of a mosque, but that’s not what’s being said,” Palmeri said. “What’s being said publicly is it’s bringing too much noise, too much traffic and it might run into late hours.”

Those worries don’t quite add up, though, Palmeri said. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community comprises 13 families, while Oshkosh West High School — and its nearly 2,000 students — sits across the street from the would-be mosque.

“There doesn’t seem to be any rational grounds to oppose this,” Palmeri said. “The Muslim organization in question has been going out of its way to be accommodating.”

Hamill argued before the Oshkosh Plan Commission that a mosque would violate city zoning codes. The commission disagreed, unanimously approving the mosque.

“Usually, you would expect a lawyer to have stronger legal ground,” Palmeri said. “You cannot prevent the religious use of a building on the basis of minimal noise. You have to have something stronger than that.”

Barring further evidence, Oshkosh is likely to OK the mosque, Alderman Steve Herman said.

“I believe the council will approve it,” he said. “It’s really not any different than any other church or organization wanting to put up a facility.”

5 comments

  1. Ahmadiyya Muslim are very peaceful people. Their moto ‘LOVE4ALL HATRED4NONE” is statement of truth. People opposing the mosque are incorrectly applying islamophobia on Ahmadies.

    Ahmadies are respected by all world Government as peaceful obedient citizen. People of Oshkosh need jettisoning their misgivings & welcome he mosque just as they would welcome a church

  2. Rafiq A. Tschannen

    The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is known to be a peaceful and law abiding community. Go and visit any existing location of their mosques and community centers and you will find out that all neighbours are happy with them.

  3. “Although the discussion in Oshkosh has focused less on religion and more on traffic and noise control, Alderman Tony Palmeri said he thinks nervousness toward Islam has driven at least some of the opposition.”

    SOME of the opposition? They are only using traffic control and noise issues as a red herring. Is there a history of mosques in small cities having problems with noise and traffic control that any other (ie. Christian) place of worship don’t have? Their reasoning is so wack and transparent. Why not own up to being sub educated, closed minded racists?

    As Sinclair Lewis said, “When facism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

  4. Look, no one is blaming people for being nervous about a mosque going up. But, each person who is nervous does have the ability to educate themselves. If they choose not to, then it’s really a shame.

    This is America, not the ghetto’s of some third world nation. Here, we are blessed enough to have access to information, and the ability to exchange discourse with one another in a peaceful environment. From what I can tell, the people wanting to build this mosque have been extremely open and transparent. Almost like, dare I say, they have nothing to hide.

    With that in mind, here’s a thought – go talk to the people wanting to build this mosque. Confront them peaceably with your concerns, and hold them accountable to answer your questions. I promise, the bogeyman won’t jump out and chase you away.

  5. The Amadiyyah have gone so far in denouncing jihad of the sword that they are regularly killed by terrorists in Pakistan, and also are forbidden to call themselves Muslims in that country on pain of inprissonment.

    No group of Muslims has more fully renounced terrorism than have the Amadiyyah Muslims. Opposition to them is either going to come from bigotted people who hate those who have a different interpretation of the Qur’an, or from narrow-minded xenophobic people who distrust every religion except their own.

    The arguments about recruiting for Hamas that are usually irrelevant and straw men with most Mosque proposals are just totally out of the question in the case of the Amadiyyah.

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