The Islamic Society of Milwaukee has purchased a former church across from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Union and will convert it into a mosque for a growing east side Muslim community, Society President Ahmed Quereshi said.
JS Online The Islamic Society purchased the former Point of Grace property at 2223 E. Kenwood Blvd. from an investor for $700,000, according to Quereshi. Point of Grace, a ministry of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church, still maintains a presence at 2215 E. Kenwood Blvd.
The Executive Director of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee is Othman Atta. He opposes the labeling of Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist groups. He legitimizes violence against Israelis, saying “it’s within the right of an occupied people to resist their occupiers” but makes a generic condemnation of attacks on “innocent civilians.”
In November, he spoke at the American Muslims for Palestine conference that featured at least 13 Islamist speakers. In 2001, an FBI memo documented that some members of the mosque were fundraising for the Holy Land Foundation, a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity that was later shut down for financing Hamas.
The newly acquired property includes a 3,150-square-foot worship space and adjacent triplex. Quereshi said he expects the worship space upgrades to be completed before the start of Ramadan in mid-June, but that the triplex renovations could take longer.
It will be the second new worship space opened by the Islamic Society in recent months. It unveiled a new $3 million mosque in Brookfield — a first for Waukesha County — in March.
Quereshi said the Islamic Society has been looking for new worship space for the east side Muslim community, including UWM students and faculty, for years. They currently worship in a nearby duplex owned by the organization. UWM’s Muslim student population has grown to about 600 students, he said.
“In my opinion, this location serves the dual purpose of providing a convenient location for Muslim students, who are not readily able to leave the campus during the day, and increasing the attractiveness of UWM as a place for Muslim students to attend,” he said.