“The more inroads into this city (for Muslims), the more dangerous it becomes,” say Pocatello residents opposed to a mosque extension in their town. The Rev. Jim Jones (photo right) of the Blazing Grace Church brought a copy of the Koran to the lectern. He said Islam faith preaches intolerance of others and promotes the killing of Christians and Jews.
Idaho State Journal A variance request hearing that was supposed to be focused on parking and public safety concerns surrounding the placement of an Islamic Center at 1513 S. Fifth Avenue turned into testimony about religious tolerance and fear of Islam.
Originally scheduled for the small Paradise meeting room in Pocatello City Hall, the hearing was moved to the City Council Chamber to accommodate more than 100 people — most of them Muslims. Hearing officer Jim Mullen tried to limit input to planning and zoning issues, but citizen comments soon expanded — at times resembling a spirited religious debate.
A doctor from Portneuf Medical Center and a native of Somalia, Jamal Mustafa strayed from zoning concerns in his opening remarks in favor of the Islamic Center and talked about the growing needs of Muslim students at Idaho State University.
“For the past 10 years ISU has quadrupled its Muslim student population,” Mustafa said, adding the new center would expand the chance for students to practice their faith and pray. “This is for the benefit of Pocatello,” Mustafa said.
Later in the hearing when opponents to the variance spoke, they said the mosque would actually hurt Pocatello and put its residents in danger. “I get very fearful because I live close to this place,” he said about the proposed Islamic Center.
Several local (dhimmi) pastors and the Portneuf Valley Interfaith Fellowship lent their support to the application including Janie Gephardt of Pocatello’s first church, First Congregational Church of of Christ. Gephardt said when her church started back in the 1800s, it didn’t have to ask for permission.
However, opponents continued to take aim at the Muslim faith itself instead of any zoning issues related to the fact the proposed mosque is in a commercial area that requires a variance. Rick Frasure said because of the threats of Islamic war and jihad, the Islamic Center in Pocatello posed a grave danger.
Other opponents talked about their fear of Islamic violence and the faith of people in the Middle East with one emotional woman saying she would sell her house and move if the variance was approved.
Hearing officer Mullen said he would make a decision on the variance request by Feb. 18. Any appeal of that decision would have to be made within 10 days and would go before the City Council.
Another zoning concern brought up at the hearing involved potential noise from a loud speaker at the Islamic Center that would call its faithful to prayer.
Pocatello Mosque In recent years, our local Brothers and Muslim students have successfully undertaken various activities in the Mosque and throughout the Pocatello community to promote the beliefs, ideals and social behavior of Islam:
1. We have developed Islamic classes for adults and children to increase their knowledge of the Quran and the sunnah.
2. We have Promoted Dawa (spreading of Islam and conversions of unbelievers)
3. We have gone into Christian churches to educate and increase their knowledge of Islam and Muslim cultures around the world.