Over the weekend I had a conversation about the proposed building of a mosque in Los Angeles. This is a conversation many people are having, both pro and con.
At the heart of the matter is the question of whether mosques represent a threat to us. In light of 9-11 and our war against terrorists in the Middle East it’s understandable that people are feeling uneasy having something associated with these events in their own neighborhoods. Following on the heels of these concerns is the memory of the US round up of Japanese-Americans in World War 2. The regret and guilt felt by that time gives many pause that they don’t overreact to what’s happening now.
Concerns are not eased when a 1991 memo was discovered during an investigation of The Holy Land Foundation. One of the largest Islamic charities in the US were found guilty of laundering money to Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist organization.
The memo was written by Mohamed Akram, a senior Hamas leader in the US, who’s also a member of the Board of Directors for the Muslim Brotherhood in North America and one of many unindicted coconspirators in the HLF trial. In it were a list of strategic goals. One of them is the use of a “settlement process” as a “grand jihad” eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated….”
Many have begun to refer to this as a “stealth jihad”. What was viewed only as rumors were then confirmed when a panel of national security analysts belonging to The Center for Security Policy issued a report to the government citing examples of this stealth jihad happening in America.
So the questions arise. Should we allow mosques to be built? But, freedom of religion is one of the basic tenets of this country. Terrorists don’t walk around with a sticker on their shirt, “Hi, my names Akmed and I’m a terrorist”. How does one tell if someone is a threat or simply a peaceful person wanting to worship at their house of God?
What steps do we take to ensure our safety but protect the rights of others? Or is that even possible? It’s a dilemma we face in a land where the expression “innocent until proven guilty” is heard every day. But other voices remind us that if we wait until someone is ‘guilty’, the damage has already been committed.