Monday, December 26, 2005

A Controversial New Mosque In Boston

Just over three years ago, ground was broken on a $22 million mosque in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood. The mosque is being built for the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB).
In the following months, the Boston Herald and Boston's Fox Channel 25 published reports documenting the ISB's ties with terrorists, terror supporters, and anti-Semites. The Herald reported that members of the ISB's Board of Trustees had at one time included one of the Islamic world's most prominent and vocal supporters of terrorism and another gentleman who would become notorious for his anti-Semitic writing. The media also reported that one of the ISB's eight founders was a genuine terrorist who had since been arrested, convicted, and sent to jail.
The ISB responded with lawsuits for defamation. This tactic of attacking anyone who is critical of them is common to at least one other Muslim organization (CAIR). A Boston citizen sued the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) for selling the ISB the land for the mosque at a price that was well below market value. The attorney for the plaintiff contends that this sale violates the establishment clause of the Constitution.
THE LAND TRANSFER AND THE POSSIBLE government subsidy that accompanied it focused media attention on the Islamic Society of Boston.

Although the ISB widely and often claims to champion a "path of moderation, free of extremism" and "condemns all forms of bigotry," it has had relationships with some unsavory figures. For example, one of the Society's founders, Abdurahman Alamoudi, has been languishing in a federal prison for the past 18 months because of his ties to terrorism; his sentence calls for him to remain under government supervision for the next three decades. United States Attorney Paul McNulty called Alamoudi's conviction a "milestone in the war on terrorism."
Other controversial characters have been and are associated with the ISB. For example:
WALID FITAIHI, who, all parties agree, is in fact a member of the ISB's Board of Trustees. Fitaihi was one of the co-signers of the land conveyance between the ISB and the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

Fitaihi is also the author of an article in an Arabic language newspaper that labeled Jews "murderers of prophets" and claimed that Jews "would be punished for their oppression, murder and rape of the worshippers of Allah." Fitaihi also exhibited scorn for the "Zionist lobby in America . . . which has recruited many of the influential media." Fitaihi's writings came to the public's attention in October of 2003 in the Boston Herald and prompted a letter from the local chapter of the Anti-Defamation League requesting that the ISB take action against Fitaihi.

The ISB initially responded that it was "shocked" by the nature of Fitaihi's writings. Ultimately, however, it supported Fitaihi...
Another interesting item is that when the land transfer was made, the paper work, which required signatures of the ISB trustees, had to be sent to Saudi Arabia.
One of the private citizens named in the suit is Dr. Charles Jacobs, the head of a group called the David Project (naturally also a defendant), which is dedicated to a "fair and honest understanding of the Middle East conflict."
Dr. Jacobs, who also leads an anti-slavery organization that he founded, commented in yesterday's Boston Globe:
THE STORY on the lawsuit filed against us by the Islamic Society of Boston (''Praised by beacon, mosque project stalls amid rancor," Page A1, Dec. 18) did mention that the society's founder, Abdurahman Alamoudi, raised money for Al Qaeda and is in jail (in connection with a plot to assassinate a Saudi prince). But the story omitted even more worrisome facts.

The society's leaders have praised suicide bombers and called for attacks on Americans. A website in Qatar associated with society trustee Yousef al-Qaradawi, an internationally known leader of extremists, calls for gays to be executed by either stoning or burning. Al-Qaradawi has been barred from the United States. The society website praises as ''very good" a book that refers to the women's liberation movement as a ''Jewish plot" to corrupt society and argues that wife-beating is at times necessary. The library of the society's current Cambridge mosque contains literature containing vitriol directed against Christians, Jews, and Americans. While mosque spokesmen speak of ''dialogue" and tolerance, Qaradawi says ''there is no dialogue between us [and the Jews] except by the sword and the rifle.' "

As citizens, we were concerned. We wanted the society to answer simple questions, questions that it took pains to avoid answering. As a result, we have been sued by the society and forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars to defend ourselves. This is not a case about Boston bigots with discriminatory suspicions. It is a case of citizens rightfully worried that their city might be importing -- and subsidizing -- hatred and misogyny with links to terror.

CHARLES JACOBS
President
The David Project
Boston