Fearing lowered property values and traffic congestion, hundreds of protesters lined a section of 15 Mile near Mound recently to protest a plan to build a large mosque at the residential site. Chaledean Christian immigrants from the Middle East were among the most vociferous in their opposition.
Detroit News Many of the demonstrators waved American flags and crosses, others carried signs like “Wrong place” and “Build homes on this site” and “No mosque.” Some chanted “Vote No on land review” concerning the 20,500-square foot monster mosque planned on four and a half acres of largely undeveloped property between Hatherly Place and Davison Drive.
“We said no to this (plan) earlier this month — that should be the end of it,” said Mark Cacho, who lives on Maple directly across from the site. “Take it somewhere else. This is a neighborhood, we don’t need anymore traffic. This is America and everyone expresses what they feel.”
While many citizens did raise strong points about zoning issues the place of worship could bring to their neighborhood, the shocking number of residents who expressed their bigoted views overshadowed them.
From suspecting that it is funded by international terrorist organizations, to raising concerns that it would lower property values in the neighborhoods, one by one residents took their turn to lash out radical comment to city leaders.
Chaldean Christian residents had a heavy presence at the two meetings, sharing their dissatisfaction towards the proposed mosque. Said resident Hana Aboona. “Take your mosque and go somewhere else; we don’t want you there.” She added that she would move out of the city if plans were to go forward.
MUST SEE VIDEO (below) of the city council meeting began circulating on YouTube just days later. The meeting included comments from Chaldean and other residents who strongly opposed a new center being built on 15 Mile road.
“I wish they’d go to Dearborn or somewhere else, just not this area,” resident Saad Antoun told city officials. “I don’t want to be near people like this. This is not humanity. My point is that it’s not right to live with people like this…this is not acceptable at all. These people…they are scaring the public.”
Antoun proceeded to hold a picture of a woman in a burqa (above) and suggested that city officials outlaw it and other Islamic attire, such as the hijab, in Sterling Heights. He said he tends to see local residents wearing them at the malls and grocery stores and called it “scary and disgusting.”
Faces in the below video are covered out of fear of retribution by Muslims:
Cacho, like many others at the demonstration, said they first learned of the plan in late July when they received a postcard from the city advising them it would be taken up at a Sterling Heights planning commission meeting. Many packed the meeting earlier this month, hotly debating the project for more than four hours and stalling a vote for special land use. The property is currently zoned single-family residential but approval can be made for a house of worship.
Debbie Rossi, a long-time city resident, who also lives across from the site said, “This is being planned in a residential Catholic community. We live here because it is a residential community. Now we have deer and fox and beautiful trees. I don’t want to hear Muslim calls for prayer five times a day.”
“There is already enough traffic along 15 Mile Road,” she said. “The site being planned is supposedly for 400 people but they have only 100 parking spaces. Where are the other cars going to be parked? They are going to be parked along our streets in our neighborhood. Realtors said we can expect a 30 percent drop in our property values. We don’t need this. It’s a bad, bad idea.”
A site plan shown at the August 13 meeting detailed plans of the 20,500 square foot building with a 3,200 square foot main worship area for 325 people. Plans showed 130 parking spaces.
The multi-million dollar project is being proposed by Jaafar Chehab, director of the American Islamic Community Center in Madison Heights. Three pro-mosque demonstrators showed up late in the event and stood on the outskirts of the group carrying their own signs which read: “Islam Loves You” “We support the mosque” and “What is this really about?”
Police broke up a heated argument between the three, including one man carrying a copy of the Koran, and the much larger group of anti-mosque demonstrators. All were advised that everyone had a right to free speech and the event continued without further incident.
Hostile crowd reacts badly when Muslim petitioner says “Islam is just like Christianity.”