The Islamic center on East Drive in Mobile is tattered and torn. Its president, Shafik Hammami has requested redevelopment, but was turned down last year by city council. And they aren’t the only ones with objections. “They want to add on and add on and it’s going to take more parking and they’re gonna start parking in the street,” says neighbor Mike Warden.
WKRG A revised plan for the facility includes a two-story building with classrooms for about 80 students and a 6,400 square-foot mosque. They’ll present their proposal to the Planning Commission Thursday.
Traffic is the main concern among neighbors we spoke with. East Drive runs from Airport Boulevard right up to the University of South Alabama. “Even when there’s a sports event, the traffic on this street, even when there’s classes in the morning the traffic on this street is really, really bad,” says Dianne. And traffic isn’t her only concern, she says folks on their way from these apartments back here to the Islamic Center will often sit and chat at this picnic table located in her front yard.
Shafik Hammami, President of the Islamic Center turned down our request for an interview, saying he didn’t want to talk before his proposal to the Planning Commission on Thursday, but in an interview last May says he believes prejudice against the religion is to blame. (He’s right! People don’t want more Muslims the neighborhood)
“The truth is we are a peaceful religion and we have nothing to do with all these terrorist attacks going on all over the world,” says Hammami. (We just cheer them on from afar)
And though it was not mentioned today, neighbors could be concerned after several attacks and hate crimes aimed at mosques were carried out recently in the U.S. Whatever the reason, neighbors plan to fight it. “My sister’s going to go down there and fight it again,” says Warden.