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Temecula approves mosque after contentious 8-hour hearing

The Temecula City Council early Wednesday morning unanimously approved a proposed mosque after a marathon eight-hour hearing that seesawed from vitriolic rants from residents castigating Muslims as terrorists to interfaith leaders praising the peaceful virtues of Islam.


La-me-temecula-mosqueIn the end, the council’s decision was made solely based on mundane issues such as traffic, parking and environmental impacts, with the council agreeing that the project exceeded all legal requirements for approval.

The vote came at 3:34 a.m. after the council sat patiently into the wee morning hours listening to  testimony from residents, largely a replay of the months of debate over the mosque. More than 110 people signed up to testify, though some drifted away after sitting through six hours of speakers.

“This was a democratic republic at its best," said Councilwoman Maryann Edwards. Plans by the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley to build a 24,943-square-foot mosque on a vacant 4-acre plot in northeastern  Temecula, next to a Baptist church, have been attacked by opponents who have said the mosque will attract Islamic extremists and overwhelm the neighborhood with traffic congestion and noise.

The city’s Planning Commission unanimously approved the project in early December, and opponents appealed that ruling to the City Council, which held a packed public hearing on the project starting about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

“This is a great day for all of Temecula, really," said Imam Mohamoud Harmoush of the Islamic Center. “Now I think we must again devote ourselves to reaching out to the community."

Dozens of residents, and speakers from as far away as Los Angeles and Hesperia, voiced their opposition to the center. Most of the criticism focused on the potential traffic congestion that the mosque may create on neighborhood streets, although city planners said an independent traffic study showed the center would have minimal effects.

Other speakers hurled visceral attacks against Islam, warning that the mosque would serve as a strategic foothold for extremists bent on undercutting America’s values and laws.

"If you want to come here and not abide by our laws, you can just turn around and find another place to live," said Amy Pina, 42, of Temecula. Just as many residents, including dozens of Muslims living in the Temecula Valley, condemned those attacks as bigoted vitriol born of an ignorance of Islamic beliefs.

“We are not terrorists. We are victims of terrorists … we are victims of fear," Suhail Fares told the council.

Early in the hearing, City Atty. Peter Thorson told council members that they could only consider land-use issues when reviewing the project and that to base any decision on religious, political or social factors would violate freedom of religion under the 1st Amendment.

The mosque and center reflect a Mediterranean design seen in many Temecula neighborhoods, though the building will have traditional domes topped with crescent moons. The facility will be built in two stages, with the first limited to a 4,100-square-foot mosque to serve about 150 Muslim families living in Temecula, Murrieta and surrounding communities.

The Islamic Center, which has existed for years in a warehouse in one of Temecula’s industrial areas, bought the property for the proposed mosque 10 years ago and has been raising money to build the facility ever since. The Planning Commission’s approval of the mosque was appealed to the City Council by Temecula resident George Rombach, president of a group called Concerned American Citizens.

Rombach during the hearing accused city officials of giving the Islamic Center preferential treatment and said the proposed mosque violated restrictions on parking, environmental impacts and generating traffic. City planning officials dismissed those allegations, saying the city acted properly and the proposed mosque met all legal requirements.

Rombach said he hadn’t decided whether to file a legal challenge to the city’s decision.

"I’m still weighing my options," he said.


Temecula residents square off over proposed mosque

Temecula City Council set to vote on proposed mosque

Proposed Temecula mosque wins planning commission approval

-- Phil Willon in Temecula

Comments () | Archives (78)

What Islam has done to Europe, and the world, it will do to America. Beware!

Tolerance died in 2001. This "faith" has no place within the American society. Please wake up or just be prepared to be assimilated.. like in Europe where Islam is pushing for the sharia law to rule within the justice systems, or hallal meat is pushed to your plate no matter your faith is.

Tolerance died in 2001.

It is sad to see that there are still so many bigots in out country. I would think they would be ashamed, but apparently they are not. Fortunately, cooler, more logical heads prevailed and the mosque was approved based on the issues it should be judged on: traffic and the like.

what do you expect from a bunch of redneck nazi racists out in Temecula?

The mosque will most likely be built. Try to build a church or temple in a moslem country. Christians, Jews and Hindu's are persecuted and many have been killed due to the moslem intolerance of other religions. Lets start a fund to build a church or temple in Mecca. To show the good spirit and the openness of Islam the fund should start at the mosque in Temecula. What say you Temecula moslems think Islam the religion of peace, your good will and the love of God will prevail and allow other religions the freedom you receive from the UNITED STATES. If you don't believe you can build a church or temple in Mecca then you should also condemn your fellow believers for their intolerance and hatred of other religions. What say you?


So long as the moderate Christians keep their silence in the face of brutal activities perpetuated by radical Fundamentalist Christians on other Americans (David Koresh Waco, Timothy McVeigh Oklahoma City, James Loughner Tucson, White Nationalist, KKK), then the moderates will keep permitting the Fundamentalist Christians to define them and allow the whole world to view all Christians as potentially violent. It's time for moderate Christians to stand up publicly and actively against radical Fundamentalist Christians.

Moderate Muslims live in a fantasy world in which Islam is "peaceful," the Quran "noble" and Muhammad the most virtuous model of the "perfect" man.

Truth: Muhammad led a band of cutthroats and thieves, robbing caravans, stealing merchants' goods, selling captives as slaves, raping widows, slaughtering whole tribes. He exterminated the Jews of Yathrib (Medina), a feat Muslims still admire. He had dozens of "wives," molested a 6-year-old, had sex with her when she was 9 and encouraged the rape of war widows by his men. While powerless in Mecca, Muhammad's tactics were suppressed. After Medina, he began the endless war against non-believers which continues today, 1400 years later.

No matter how "moderate" a Muslim is, he can't admit the truth about Muhammad or Islam's bloody history. The Quran has more hate and intolerance in it than Hitler's Mein Kampf:

Quran 9:5: "then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)"

Quran 9:111: "Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain."

Quran 9:29: "Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection."

Quran 5:60: [re: non-Muslims] "those who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath, those of whom some He transformed into apes and swine, those who worshipped evil"

Quran 98:6: [re: Christians, Jews, other non-Muslims] "those who disbelieve, among the People of the Scripture and the idolaters, will abide in fire of hell. They are the worst of created beings."

Quran 8:12: "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them."

This is what Muslims read and believe in every mosque. No matter how "moderate" Muslims claim to be, Islam was never moderate. It's a totalitarian ideology filled with hate and intolerance toward non-believers.

Call it what it is…….a supersize terrorist recruitment center.

Jared Lee Loughner was a Muslim, right?


let them built it

I'm so proud of my City Council!!

I live in Temecula and I stopped by last night to drop off a letter of support for the Staff's recommendation to deny the appeal. I was hoping that my ** very conservative ** City Council would make the right decision and they did.

Temecula is a wonderful city in which to live. It is wonderful, in part, because the City is very well planned and the City follows the General Plan.

The proposed Mosque conformed to the General Plan and I trust that the use will not have a negative impact on our City. I'm so proud that my City Council stuck to its principles with respect to good planning and approved a project that conformed with the General Plan.

Hooray Temecula!! I love The Mec!!

I wish I could say I'm shocked at how many of you support the building of a mosque. But I'm not shocked at all since I know that many of you are really, really stupid.

there is no such thing as a moderate muslim. you liberals are destroying our country. why don't you move to a muslim country with these so called moderate muslims and see if they will help you start up a christian church in their country. you'll be lucky if they don't kill you within a week

Well said C Iguana. Do you say the same thing about Catholicism or do you condemn an entire religion because of the action of a few perverted priests?

Hopefully the residents of Temecula will treat the mosque attendees better than Egyptian muslims treat Christians

To Jim Campbell:
Obviously the 1st amendment applies to all governments: federal, state, local, and a quick Google search gives the legal basis for this:

"starting with Gitlow v. New York, 268 U.S. 652 (1925), the Supreme Court has held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies the First Amendment to each state, including any local government" (from Wikipedia)

Religious freedoms in this country apply to people and organizations of any faith, or no faith.

Re: Jim Campbell

"Attorney Thorson's advice is odd to say the least. The First Amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise there of." Are members of the Temecula City Council now considered members of congress?"

No. But First Amendment protections have been extended to acts of states and localities through the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause.

Islam is not a religion of peace. It is an ideology seeking world domination. It does not allow for religious "freedom" for any other religions. If you don't agree with them you are their enemy.

Let the games begin.

Kudos to the Temecula city council for deciding this non-issue in a professional manner. Shame on the various hatemongers that showed up to demonstrate their own ignorance and insecurity. Protests of mosque projects have been taking place all over the US, and it is these protests that present the real threat to national security - by sending a message of hate to young muslim-americans, these protesters are creating opportunities for real troublemakers to recruit. But that's the way it works, isn't it - the fundamentalists on one side basically exist to reinforce the fundamentalists on the other side, providing mutual excuses for trouble. Democracy depends on the reasonable majority learning to ignore them. There are a few people posting on this thread that need to buck up and learn that they don't live in a theocratic christian state. And that's a good thing.

Why does the final Mosque need to be 6 times the size (24,000 sq ft versus 4000 sq ft) of the original one? Do 150 families really need that large a mosque? Or do the Mosque proponents plan to attract a large influx of Muslims.

I suspect this is more about the process of colonization -- turning an area into a de facto Muslim stronghold -- as I have witnessed in the UK. For those of you claiming the Islamic drive to dominance is 'fear mongering' or bigotry, you need to read up -- start with the concepts of Dar-ul-Islam and Dar al Harb, then read 'Making Muslim Space in North America and Europe'. Unfortunately in open, liberal (small-l) Western countries, there is little we can do to stop this slow motion transformation of our society -- unless we take a stand and sharply limit Muslim immigration.

This is a good thing but it's too bad that Orange and Riverside counties are the political equivelent of Mississsippi.

At least unreasoned hate lost today but we need to be on guard against those bigots who would corrupt our constitution for their own warped ends.

Temecula is LITTERED with churches - on each corner, in every strip mall and any vacant land.

But when a mosque is to be built, it's about land use and traffic issues? Please - I've lived in Temecula, and while it's a nice place, the protesters are not fooling anyone. It's all about the hysterical and ignorant who believe that all Muslims want to kill every US citizen they find, and that mosque is codeword for "sleeper cell".

I'm a huge backer of our armed forces and believe the job they do to be the most self sacrificing act a man or woman can do. But one of the reasons they fight is to defend the Constitution - for all of us, not just some. Well done Temecula City Council.

BTW, if this is the same gentleman who is in the Time's article, well..

“The Baptist church is one of their arch-rivals. This is a victory mosque,” Rombach said.


It's not about religion, right? Riiigghhhttttttt......

Read the Koran, then tell me that Islam is a religion of peace, go ahead read it, you can find it on line, then come back and tell me what it preaches

I think it is perfectly shocking that all these temples are going up in Temecula. Don't the good residents know how evil these crusader christians will be toward the rest of the community? It won't be long until crosses are on your lawns too.
Keep up the good work, Temecula.

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