CAIR-LA Welcomes Interfaith Support for Temecula Mosque, Worshipers
The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) has welcomed the tremendous support expressed by members of the Southern California interfaith community last Friday for the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley and its worshipers.
The support was offered as a response to a protest, organized by the Southwest Riverside County Tea Party Citizens in Action group, outside the Temecula Mosque. The protest was in opposition to a proposal for a new mosque in the area. Organizers had instructed Tea Party members to bring dogs to harass Muslim worshippers during the Friday congregational prayer.
SEE: Tea Party Anti-Islam Mosque Protest Planned for July 30
SEE: CA Tea Party to Use Dogs to Harass Muslim
On Friday, some 60 members of the Christian and Jewish communities turned out to support the mosque. The Muslim community also received many phone calls and messages of support.
Among the supporters was Elizabeth Sholes, with the Sacramento-based California Council of Churches.
"The deep misinformation being spread about Islam is in itself disturbing, but the idea that people can willfully try to cause fear and intimidation against their own neighbors is disgusting. It is a complete repudiation of our nation's long and distinguished history of welcoming people of all kinds," Sholes wrote to a local newspaper, the Valley News.
SEE: Reaction surfaces against rally to oppose Temecula mosque (The Valley News)
SEE: Temecula mosque plans sparks protest (Press-Enterprise)
VIDEO: Protestors Denounce Planned Calif. Mosque (ABC 7)
The Rev. Joe Zarro, of the United Church of the Valley, and co-chairman of the Interfaith Council of Murrieta and Temecula Valley was one of the supporters who visited the mosque on Friday. He told the Press-Enterprise, "There's a community of faith that stands with our neighbors," and that Imam Mahmoud Harmoush "has worked toward religious freedom and understanding in this valley."
Another individual sent an email message of support, saying: "I am writing to express my support for the proposed Islamic Center in Temecula and also to voice my sadness and anger about the (ignorant and hateful) people who are opposing it. We are a Catholic family. I grew up in San Diego and my mother still lives near Temecula. ..."
ALSO SEE: Islamic group denounces planned Temecula mosque protest (LA Times)
"By supporting the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley and the Muslim community, Americans today have reaffirmed our nation's core principles of freedom and equality," said CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush. "No one in America should be stopped from building a house of worship or harassed for praying at a particular house of worship."
Ayloush called on Tea Party leaders to clarify the group's stand on Islamophobia. Although some local Tea Party offices denounced the use of dogs to harass Muslim worshipers, other Tea Party websites continue to post the protest notice encouraging members to bring dogs, Bibles and flags to protest the mosque.
CAIR recently supported an NAACP resolution that urged the Tea Party movement to condemn racism within the party.
SEE: CAIR Backs NAACP Resolution on Tea Party Racism
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.