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Islamic group denounces planned protest against Temecula mosque

July 27, 2010 | 11:39 am

A group that plans to protest a proposed new mosque in Temecula by holding a rally outside the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley during Friday prayers was harshly denounced by a Southern California Islamic organization on Tuesday.

Organizers of the rally, which appears to be organized with a Southwest Riverside County political group  affiliated with the "tea party" movement, encouraged protesters to bring their dogs -- considered an insult to Muslims.

“Californians of all faiths should repudiate those who would target a house of worship using tactics specifically designed to cause offense,’’ Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations for the Greater Los Angeles area, said in a statement released Tuesday.

An announcement for the protest earlier this month had been posted on the website of the southwest Riverside County chapter of “We the People -- Citizens in Action,” but the notice can no longer be found on the site.

On the website, the group states that one of its missions is to “return the local Tea Party Movement to the people.’’ The website calls the Islamic faith "a radically intolerant belief system that is incompatible with the freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.’’

The protest comes as Islamic Center of Temecula Valley moves ahead with plans to build a 24,943-square-foot mosque on a four-acre plot of vacant land in the southeast portion of Temecula. The proposal has stirred some hostility in the mostly conservative community in Riverside County, with opponents saying they fear the mosque will attract Islamic extremists.

Leaders of the Temecula Islamic Center said they were surprised by the reaction since the organization has been in the city for more than a decade.

The city’s Planning Commission is tentatively scheduled to consider the proposed mosque on Aug. 18.

-- Phil Willon

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