A mosque muddle
The costly four-year-old battle over the proposed conversion of a DuPage County single-family home into a mosque is not yet over, but all the time and money spent litigating may leave us no closer to the truth about what’s really in play.
Is this really just a straightforward 1st Amendment case? Must the county allow zoning and public safety to be cast aside as if they were of little consequence? Are the neighbors intolerant bigots who wish to bully sincerely religious Muslims from practicing their faith?
These questions cannot be answered by examining only the specific facts of this case. Neither can they be answered by reading the memorandum opinion of a liberal, Clinton-appointee who returns from the federal bench each night to her nice home, in her nice neighborhood, and who will be utterly unaffected by this mosque operating out of a house next door.
Part of the answer, though, may lie in the fact that this is far from the only battle of its kind ongoing across the United States. Muslim groups are making similar incursions into residential areas elsewhere, aggressively litigating when zoning laws are upheld against their proposals, and generally testing American society’s will to expend public funds and private energy to conserve a reasonable, assimilative, and lawful culture.
But why these efforts to force unorthodox property uses upon small communities? With the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) injecting itself into this dispute, the possibility of Da’wah must be considered.
First, what is Da’wah? Da’wah’s most innocent definition is simply: proselytism for Islam. But there’s reason to believe that it means much more than that to many Muslims around the globe. For example, Sheikh Yusef al-Qaradawi, a preeminent leader in the Muslim Brotherhood, asserts that it is through Da’wah that America will be conquered in favor of sharia law and a worldwide caliphate. Some believe that by creating innumerable Islamist cells in little mosques throughout America, the jihadi vision seeks its fulfillment through an army of unassimilated, anti-Western Muslims, an army built from the ground-up, neighborhood by neighborhood.
The fact that CAIR is throwing its considerable weight and resources behind the proposed Army Trail Road mosque only lends further credence to such darker theories about the true purpose of this mosque, this lawsuit, and the many others just like it. After all, it was CAIR whom the FBI shunned after a lengthy trial in which evidence was presented tying CAIR to Hamas. Indeed, CAIR was identified as an unindicted co-conspirator in that trial, and federal prosecutors secured several convictions involving phony fundraising for the purpose of funneling money to support the terrorist activities of Hamas.
Then again, maybe the DuPage case is simply an innocent exercise of religious freedom in the finest traditions of our republic. In fact, let’s assume it is. Let’s also assume that the homeowners living nearby are sincerely concerned about their quality of life, the safety of their children, and the value of their property.
That leaves the DuPage County Zoning Board with a straightforward analysis, one that applies the law to the facts without being compromised by inquiries into the motives of the parties on either side of the issue.
But the reason for first raising the issue of Da’wah, above, is not to light a fuse and then back away, feigning neutrality when the bomb goes off, only to claim “those weren’t our explosive views.” The point is that while our courts, the DuPage County Board, and particularly the DuPage County Zoning Board should not concern themselves with Da’Wah, neither should they be intimidated by the corollary impulse that emanates from the fact that there are those who do openly declare that there are reasons to suspect and fear Da’wah: which is the impulse to give in to unreasonable claims and disregard reasonable laws for fear of being accused of acting upon an anti-Muslim animus sympathetic to those declarations.
And that is the mistake we are urging the Zoning Board to not commit this Thursday evening. We urge them to neither speculate about the motivations of the mosque leaders nor act out of fear of being falsely accused of such speculation. We urge them to not be intimidated by the political throw weight of CAIR or the high-handed scolding of a federal judge.
We urge them to have the courage to fairly apply the laws of DuPage County and to act as vigorous advocates for the health, safety, and welfare of the community they swore an oath to serve.