Opposition to Brookfield, Wisconsin mosque clearly not about traffic concerns

Back in March I wrote about some Waukesha County residents’ opposition to a proposed Brookfield, Wisconsin mosque and my concerns over misinformation and fear-mongering. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and not jump to hasty conclusions, but that’s not easy to do when they say things that make it nearly impossible. My hope was that after the meeting at which Islamic Society of Milwaukee President Ahmad Quereshi invited those with concerns or questions to tour the Islamic Society in Milwaukee, people would take him up on his offer. But my hopes have been dashed after reading today’s report by Rory Linnane of the Brookfield Patch.

According to Linnane, 200 people attended an anti-Islam rally in my neighborhood last night. The event was held at the Waukesha Expo Center, sponsored by VCY Radio, and featured Walid Sheobat.

From the Brookfield Patch article:

Shoebat, who says he is an ex-terrorist, has been confronted about his past by media outlets like CNN, who reported they could find no evidence to support his background story. But he stood by his case Saturday, saying the media were the real frauds.

Despite a lack of legitimate evidence to support Shoebot’s claims, some Waukesha County residents bought his message.

Brookfield residents Chuck and Sharon Bloom left the rally Saturday with a plastic bag full of books sold by VCY America, a Christian radio station that sponsored the event. The couple was hoping to learn more about Islam and to build a case against the proposed mosque.

“More than just me and my wife, the community needs to be informed,” Chuck Bloom said. “I think it’s important to find out exactly what questions we need to ask to make sure there’s no sharia law, etcetera.”

Say what? Sharia law? Really?

Unfortunately, yes.

Sharia law was the buzz phrase of the evening, especially surrounding the mosque. Shoebat said while he supports freedom of religion, Islam as an institution stretches beyond religious practice with sharia law. Sharia guides all aspects of Muslim life including daily routines, familial and religious obligations, and financial dealings, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

“It’s not the mosque I have a problem with,” Shoebat said, making no specific reference to the Brookfield proposal. “It’s, where is the funding coming from, and will the mosque sign and swear that they will never be sharia?”

Even though the invited Brookfield Mayor and alderman did not show up, I’m happy to read that they do not appear to have  the same fear of sharia law taking over Brookfield, Wisconsin. At least there’s that.

Brookfield Mayor Steven Ponto and Alderman Scott Berg have both previously stated they do not think the religion of Islam should be considered in deciding whether to grant the Islamic Society of Milwaukee the permit they need to build their proposed mosque for land northeast of the intersection of Calhoun Road and North Avenue.

But it seems more than a few area residents do not share the city leaders’ rational viewpoints.

Brookfield resident Robin Couillard said she found out about the proposed mosque for the first time at the event. She said she was especially concerned about Shoebat’s remark that a mosque is like an embassy for Islam and sharia law.

“I’m just shocked that this is being proposed for Brookfield,” she said. “I’m concerned about Islam overtaking our community, and our country, and the world.”

I especially found a local pastor’s thoughts to be disconcerting.

David Ball, a pastor from New Berlin, said he came “to find out if the message about what Islam really is is getting out properly.”

“I hold freedom of religion very dear, but Islam is not just a religion; it is also a state government system, completely contrary to our system of government,” Ball said. “Our Constitution should not be subverted to sharia law.”

There’s an upcoming public information hearing on May 2nd at 5 p.m. in the public safety building courtroom at 2100 N. Calhoun Road, Brookfield. Hopefully, the information provided at that hearing will be factual, and Waukesha County residents will take a deep breath, step back, and realize what’s going on here…

59 comments to Opposition to Brookfield, Wisconsin mosque clearly not about traffic concerns

  • The more I learn about Islam, the less I would want it in my neighborhood. That said, I am an adherent of property rights and a freedom of religion (unlike much of Islam) so I wouldn’t stand in the way.

       0 likes

    • And you know what, Denis, the more I learn about Islam the more it’s like Christianity, and the less I would want it in my neighborhood. That said, I am an adherent of property rights and a freedom of religion (unlike most of Christianity) so I wouldn’t stand in the way.

         2 likes

      • I got the context wrong. My intent was to state that the more Christianists act like Islamists, the less I want them in my neighborhood. Every bit as evil.

           2 likes

        • Memory Man

          Rich, are you using “Christianist” and “Islamist” to refer to those who use those respective religions for political gain? That fits the definition of Christianist, although “Christian” without the -ist suffix is used far more commonly. OTOH “Islamist” has a completely different meaning having to do with religious fundamentalism, not politics.

          I think it should be noted that the Ottoman Empire has shaped Islam from its formation to present day, and has helped propagate the half-truth belief that Islam is forever intertwined with government. When you consider that the post-Ottoman period has been a mere sliver in time compared to the 700+ year run of the Ottomans, it becomes evident that Islam is going through a transformation that has only just started. That means that how Muslims perceive Americans is very much in the hands of Americans.

          As far as I can see, this isn’t a battle of Islam vs. Christianity (the religion), but a battle for supremacy among reactionaries. Islamic religious fundamentalists long for a time they never lived in, with the fallacious belief that turning back the clock is a panacea. Republican political and social reactionaries also long for a time they never lived in, with the fallacious belief that turning back the clock is a panacea.

             1 likes

      • Classic example of moral relativism Rich. But if Christianist, by which I suppose you mean adherents of Christianity are “every bit as evil” as Islamists, it would seem that you also wouldn’t want a mosque in your neighborhood.

           0 likes

        • A mosque in any neighborhood would serve as much purpose as a church, which is to say not much at all. But, serving as I did to protect the right of all Americans to worship in whatever manner they wish, I would not stand in its way, as long as they allowed me the same. Which I think is about what you said.

             1 likes

    • I think that you need to learn more about Islam before you make such rash judgements about a religion of more than 1 billion people.

      There is a profound (intentional?) misunderstanding of Islam in the West and so much of it is related to issues of translation and cultural misunderstanding.

      The tendency when reading the Quran is to read a word like “kafir” (infidel) as referring to all non-Muslims. But it is clear from a close study of the way the Quran uses the word that it refers to those who actively oppose and persecute Muslims. The word literally meant “ingrate” in ancient Arabic. So the polytheists (“mushrikun”) who tried to wipe out Islam were the main referents of the word “infidel.” Christians, as we see above, were mostly in a completely different category. The Christian Ethiopian monarch gave refuge to the Muslims at one point when things got hot in Mecca. The Quran does at one point speak of the “infidels” among the Jews and Christians (2:105: “those who committed kufr/infidelity from among the people of the Book.”) But this verse only proves that it did not think they were all infidels, and it is probably referring to specific Jewish and Christian groups who joined with the Meccans in trying to wipe out the early Muslim community. (The Quran calls Jews and Christians “people of the book” because they have a monotheistic scripture).

         3 likes

      • Sorry, that last paragraph was supposed to be a quote… Messed up the tags.

           0 likes

      • Memory Man

        A good case study is the Islamic conquest of Persia. Under pre-Ottoman Islamic rule there was great religious tolerance in occupied Persia. That respectful and diplomatic approach towards religious tolerance won far more converts to Islam than Christian missionaries or Catholic armies ever did to Christianity. Now it’s hard to imagine Iran as being anything except Muslim.

           1 likes

    • Memory Man

      Denis, you don’t really get the concept of a God as Creator, do you? I mean, what you’re saying is akin to “I don’t want molecules moving into my neighborhood!”

      The point is that mosque or not, you really don’t have any choice in the matter.

      I lived for three years in a ghetto of Muslim Indians who worshiped at a mosque just a few blocks from where I lived. If anything, Islam in my neighborhood helped stem the tide of drug-related crime there.

      My mother is far more picky about where she lives, and she too has a large mosque nearby her home. Aside from a modest increase in traffic around the mosque in Fridays, there’s really no impact on the neighborhood at all.

      Denis, your grammar is so poor that I can’t make out what you’re trying to say, but “unlike much of Islam” does look like a forked-tongue clause to negate your claim of supporting our Constitutional freedoms. Would you care to list anything in particular that you “learn about Islam” that you find objectionable?

      Do you believe that Islam emits some sort of radiation or noxious gas that might make your neighborhood unsafe? Please be clear and specific.

         1 likes

  • Jake formerly of the LP

    More proof that the 262 is the real part of this state that is “surrounded by reality.” And you wonder why Brookfield Elementary alums like me don’t ever move back once we get to college?

    And Penis Navratilova conveniently leaves out that a lot of people like me want less to do with Christianity and mega-churches the more we see who calls their shots and notices how they operate. Funny how that works with fundamentalists in religion, isn’t it?

       3 likes

  • Other Side

    @Jake: The name calling was uncalled for. Denis may be misguided and, frankly, very wrong about Islam, but he did not deserve that. His comments are respectful. Please curb yourself.

       2 likes

  • This subject matter is contentious, but Other Side is correct-there’s no need for name calling. Let’s try to avoid that, please.
    Thank you.
    Denis’ comments were respectful and he provided his name; I respect that, even if I don’t agree with his thoughts on Islam.

       0 likes

    • Thank you Other Side and Lisa for your advocacy of respectful discourse, something that is often sadly lacking on this site. This does not speak well of your ideological peers. Anyway, I didn’t comment here to bring Christianity into the discussion, nor to defend it. But as I said, the more I have learned about Islam, the less I like it. It has a definite totalitarianism about it, is not particularly tolerant of other religions (to put it mildly) women, gays etc… not sure why even mild criticism brings out such anger in people on this site when they are very quick to denounce Christianity, as we have seen. I welcome any mature responses about why I am mistaken about Islam.

         0 likes

      • What bothered me is the assumption that having a mosque in Brookfield will bring sharia law to the area; that seems like fear-mongering, which I really dislike.
        It’s not about Islam or Christianity for me, it’s about “live and let live.” Why can’t all kinds of people with differing religions (and non-religion) co-exist without freaking out? That’s why I wrote the post.

           4 likes

  • Other Side

    I am fairly well-versed in the history of Islam. Anyone who says it’s all about violence doesn’t know the history of Christianity.

       4 likes

    • Memory Man

      There’s a very good and valid reason why all westerners are still referred to as “crusaders” by the descendants of the victims of those pogroms.

         1 likes

  • Other Side

    @Denis: Everyone has their bad day and let’s anger take control. I have certainly been guilty. Sorry to those I’ve harmed. Having been a blogger for seven years I believe I can rightly say the level of civil discourse here and at other liberal blogs remains light years ahead of most of our conservative brethren.

    We welcome you here.

       2 likes

    • Memory Man

      Hear, hear!

      I don’t go to pro-GOP forums because I’m not spoiling for a fight or under the delusion that I could win converts. But a forum that I have posted on for years has become a bastion of teabag extremism. Whenever I post anything on any topic there, I get flamed mightily as a matter of course.

         1 likes

  • “Would you care to list anything in particular that you “learn about Islam” that you find objectionable?” asks MM.

    Sure, lets start with the founder, Muhammed, a very violent man and a pedophile to boot.

       0 likes

    • Kind of like this violent bastard or these pedophiles?

      People who live in glass churches shouldn’t throw stones.

         2 likes

    • Memory Man

      Denis, I asked you specifically about what you have learned. The reason why I was quite specific in my wording is because I wanted to see what, if anything prompted your outburst.

      Your response to my very specific question is not an answer to my question. It’s just another round of accusation. You’re still at square one. And I’m still questioning the motive behind this.

      So I repeat, what did you learn that led you to your scathing attacks?

         1 likes

      • Memory Man, how is my response not an answer? I have learned that the founder of Islam was violent and a pedophile. Am I wrong about that? And what “scathing” attack are you referring to? I simply indicated that I wouldn’t want a mosque in my neighborhood but that, as an advocate of property rights and freedom of religion, I wouldn’t stand in the way. Do you really find that to be a “scathing” attack? Regarding the violence of Muhammed and his pedophilia, I believe it is simply true and should not therefore be considered an attack. Of course if I am wrong about Muhammed, please enlighten me.

           0 likes

        • I have learned that many Catholic priests are/were pedophiles, and that the Church in many cases helped cover up cases of pedophile priests.

          Clearly we shouldn’t allow Catholic churches to be built anywhere near anyplace where kids might be.

             3 likes

        • Memory Man

          Denis, I’m doing my best to reach out to you, but you need to take some personal responsibility for what you write. I don’t see anything like “I’m an ESL writer, please help me with my grammar” to indicate that you need help with the rudiments of composition, so I think it’s not unreasonable to expect you to know what “answer” means.

          You claimed:

          * “I have learned about Islam”

          * “much of Islam (opposes) property rights and a freedom of religion”

          * “Islamists (are) evil”

          * “(Islam) has a definite totalitarianism about it”

          * “(Islam) is not particularly tolerant of other religions (to put it mildly) women, gays etc…” which is a round-about way of accusing all Muslims of being extremely intolerant.

          * “Muhammed (is the) the founder (of Islam)”

          * “Muhammed (is) a very violent man and a pedophile”

          If you’re literate enough to make these accusations, then you’re literate enough to back them up.

          I’ve been asking you to show that these claims have any basis in reality, and all you’ve done is double down with more and more unjustified claims. You’ve deflected responsibility for what you wrote: “I welcome any mature responses about why I am mistaken about Islam” yet refuse to acknowledge all of the replies.

          At this point, it’s up to you and only you to give, at the very least, one reason why you shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand as a serial liar and a bigot. Can you?

             2 likes

  • janeofdane

    I have Muslims in my extended family and I know what they are praying for in the mosque. They’re praying for good health, job success and the future of their kids. Most Muslims have an agenda which is exactly like that of Lutheran choir members.

       1 likes

  • Other Side

    @Denis: Could you provide a link to “proof” that Muhammed was a pedophile? As far as the violence angle, so? He conquered neighboring tribes to spread the new faith. Nothing new. Christianity is replete with stories of forced adherance.

       4 likes

  • Jan Tessier

    Dennis must have attended Glenn Beck’s Skool Of Histery.

       3 likes

    • Zuma Bound

      (*laughing*) Good one, Jan.

      “And. . .today’s ‘Glenn Beck Award’ goes to. . . .Denis (“Honest, there IS a relevant connection between what Mohamed may or may not have actually done 1500 years ago and the need to keep mosque out of Brookfield”) Navratillllll.”

      Accepting for Ms. Navratilova, who couldn’t be with us today will be David Barton, Pat Robertson, Archbishop Bernard Law (on behalf of all pedophilic Catholic priests everywhere who were historically protected by the Catholic Church from exposure and prosecution) and Bill Donahue (chief, “it was just inappropriate touching”, apologist for the Catholic Church).

         0 likes

    • Zuma Bound

      @ Ms. Navratilova

      You need to set aside your ancient-themed bigotry, and pay heed to what Memory Man, Other Side, Phil, Zach and Jan are saying.

      I don’t have a “dog” in this race. I will say this, though, “yours”, unfortunately, reminds me of Seamus, before Romney hosed him down.

      Live and let live, Denis, and put the emphasis on AMERICAN when you talk about what patriotic Muslim-Americans do or want to do in 2012 HERE, in America.

      Mohamed married an underage girl in the Middle East 1500 years ago?! So what?! You’ll need better evidence than that to persuade fair-minded people.

         0 likes

    • Zuma Bound

      @ Big D

      A few words from your anti-Islamist brethren, AND a very funny, not to mention very educational, photo from Markos Moulitsas:

      http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/05/05/1088907/-Saturday-hate-mail-a-palooza-Hitching-up-with-a-Republican-senator

      Enjoy, big boy!

         0 likes

  • Other Side, as a starter, try a Wikipedia search of Muhammed’s wives. Muhammed had one wife, betrothed at age 7 or so, consummated at age nine; plenty of references included in case you are inclined to dismiss Wikipedia outright. Regarding the repeated efforts to bring Christianity into this discussion for some reason, I will pass and leave it to others to compare the behavior of Mohammed with that of Jesus.

       0 likes

  • Other Side

    @Denis: Surely you are not comparing customs in the Arab world in the time of Muhammed with today. Western “civilization” is not devoid of instances of young girls entering into marriage. Your anger should be directed at terrorists, not innocent worshipers.

    Still, thanks for comment.

       1 likes

  • Memory Man

    Once again the “Google it” / “Wikipedia says…” excuse is the 21st century equivalent to “the dog ate my homework”, only more aggressive and ignorant.

       0 likes

    • Memory Man, the information pertaining to Muhammed’s child bride is in the Koran. Wikipedia is useful as a shortcut to more easily find the truth in the Koran that you apparently are unable or unwilling to confront.

      And Other Side, I am never impressed with the “other guys are bad too” argument which is the gist of what you are saying. If its all the same with the people on this site, I will find someone other than a violent pedophile to emulate. And of course there are innocent worshippers and I never said there weren’t.

         0 likes

      • Memory Man

        Denis, do you see that long summary of your claims that I’ve made for you? Notice that you’ve made zero progress. If this was a race, you’d be the biggest loser with a dozen DNS (did not start) entries. In other words, switching your argument constantly when the previous one fails actually makes you and your case look many times worse.

        I agree with you that Wikipedia can be useful, but only as long as you have substantial knowledge to back it up with. But as we all know, Wikipedia is easily manipulated. Perhaps this is why you wouldn’t cite a Wikipedia page? Because you know that I can just log in and change what the page says? :D When I link to a Wikipedia page, I have a dozen ISBN codes to cite from books I’ve read (and years of study) to back that up. That’s the difference between actual knowledge and idle claims.

        You’ve run like a frightened rabbit from every single claim that you’ve made here, so I’m a lot more than amused that you persist in blaming others for your own lack of personal responsibility. I’m gratified to know that the GOP method of winning converts is still the old “hit and run”. ROFLOL

           0 likes

        • I am not running from you MM. Initially you asked what I have learned about Islam that I found objectionable. Thereafter I mentioned the violence and pedophilia of Muhammed, the first Muslim. You then wanted my source. I directed you to look into my claim via sources listed at Wikipedia. Now you are badgering me about a whole list of questions, when you haven’t addressed as yet, or at least in a mature manner, my first claim about the violence and the pedophilia. So why not answer my questions? Was Muhammed, who consummated a “marriage” with a nine year old girl, a pedophile? Or, do you claim that Muhammed did not consummate with said young bride? Or, is sex with a nine year old girl not pedophilia for some reason? Do you find pedophilia objectionable? Does it offend you that I think sex with a nine year old is wrong? Should we hide from true statements about Muhammed for some reason? What is the reason?

             0 likes

          • Memory Man

            Denis, it’s obvious to everyone now that you’ve painted yourself into a corner. Despite your dishonest claims and protestations, you’re the only one who got you there, and nobody owes you a free pass. You know full well that I don’t indulge loaded questions or any other forms of intellectual dishonesty. I don’t reward it either, which is why I’m not giving you any clues.

            Beyond that, Other Side pretty much has it covered. You’re on your own.

            My thanks to my friends Azim (a Muslim from Jerusalem), Harout (a Christian from Lebanon), “Steve” (a Muslim from Iran) my Middle Eastern Studies professor, the late Father Gilbert (a Jesuit monk who was stationed in Jerusalem), my friends at St. George’s College in Jerusalem, the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, the Islamic Cultural Center of Greater Chicago, my friends who served in the Mossad and other intelligence agencies et al. for the wealth of information without which I would never engage into a discussion about Islam and Muslims.

               0 likes

  • Other Side

    @Denis: I’m merely trying to show you that selective reasoning is dangerous.

    Frankly, I’m in the “I don’t know”. category regarding all relgions. My view is they are all myth.

    Nonetheless, people of any particular faith deserve a modicum of respect. Your denunciations of Islam are ill-informed. No doubt there are those who use their beliefs like a hammer. Including Christianity. For example Pat Robertson and our very own governor. But to single out one is preposterous.

       1 likes

  • Other Side

    @Denis: As I suggested earlier it is a mistake to apply our ideas of morality to events that occurred 1400 years before. It is a fact that child marriages were not uncommon in Bedouin society.

    In Jewish society as late as the Middle Ages it was not unusual for young girls to be married; usually arranged. The same is true of early Christianity.

    As recently as the 20th century child brides were not unusual; especially those practicing polygamy.

    Who’s to say Jesus wasn’t a homosexual? He hung around with 12 guys fairly exclusively. Would it be fair for future historians to view this according to their ideas of morality?

       1 likes

    • Other Side, I agree that events of 1400 years ago would, under most circumstances, be irrelevant today. However, we are talking about the leader of a huge present-day religion, who’s actions then are quite relevant to his followers. I think it is safe to say that much objectionable behavior can and is justified by pointing to the example of Muhammed.

      Regarding Jesus’ sexuality, I don’t know of any reputable sources that claim Jesus was gay, though I think a whole lot of folks wish he were. Regarding future historians and Jesus, it would be unfair to claim Jesus was gay if he wasn’t. Lastly, I am not a cultural relativist, wherein any behavior is acceptable, so long as it is a part of your culture. Some things are just wrong. Wrong then, wrong now. I would include pedophilia among those wrongs.

         0 likes

    • Memory Man

      “Who’s to say Jesus wasn’t a homosexual? He hung around with 12 guys fairly exclusively.”

      ROFLOL!!!

      Now that I think about it, Jesus Christ hung around with his mommy. Doesn’t look good! OTOH he also hung out with female prostitutes, so…

         0 likes

  • Other Side

    @Denis: Thanks for your comments.

       0 likes

  • Update: here’s a statement from the Mayor of Brookfield, Mayor Ponto via Brookfield Patch, 4/18/12:
    http://brookfield-wi.patch.com/articles/mayor-religion-can-not-be-considered-in-mosque-proposal

    And thanks for all of your comments!

       0 likes

  • Concerned

    Our country was based on the freedom of religion. The fact that any one would protest the construction of a holy place is absurd. I am not Muslim or Christian-It’s my right as an American to not have to choose a religion.

    I have lived in Milwaukee now for 10 years and every block I have lived on has had at least one or two Islamic families. They have always been respectful, hardworking, and contributors to my community. None of them have ever tried to convert me or my family-unlike the Christians I have lived near. There is an Islamic man on my block who makes bag lunches for a shelter for battered women who are returning to the work force. That sure sounds like a terrorist act…

    I have heard that there will be more protests to stop the building of this Mosque. That is absolutely a tragedy. I wish there was something I could do to help. I would like to leave a better legacy for our children than one of intolerance.

       2 likes

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       0 likes

  • Al

    Lots of heads in the sand on this site, no surprise. All of you who are for Islam, look up a koran online and read it. Find out what tolerance Islam actually has. The answer is none. Look at Muslim countries, and those that have recently been liberated, NO tolerance. Mohamed was a child molester and did marry a 9 year old. All of you bash on Wikipedia or google are just to ignorant to look it up, so you blindly defend something you know nothing about. The “hadith” is the guide and the koran is the law. For instance do any of you know wha Taqiyya is? It is permissable for a non-muslim to lie and do things outside his faith, like drink, say non-muslim things, in order to decieve non-believers or infidels, us. IF you want to argue Jesus vs. Mohamed, lets go. Jesus taught tolerance, love and peace. Love thy enemy, turn the other cheek etc. Mohamed said kill the infidels where you find them. Nothing but war and hatred. If you want history, islam invaded all of the countries that are now muslim, none of them just converted, they invaded europe and conquered spaid for almost 700 years and was only stopped by a French king. Now ask after this mosque is built, who will move in around it? Will they all be these super tolerant Muslims you think are everywhere? Look up Dearborn Mich. Look up some videos on youtube from there. Think a large muslim population is pro-U.S. or tolerant of anything? NO! Their religion is right in line with most teaching that NAZIS advocate. Kill gays, beat women, molest children. Dont even tell me “Christians do it do”, some people yes, but its NOT a religous mandate like Islam. Ive lived in the mid-east for the better part of a decade and given the benefit of the doubt only to be proven wrong on my tolerance for them time and again. Wake up!

       1 likes

    • Al, you say we’re all “for Islam,” but I’d argue we’re “for religious freedom.”

      After all, wasn’t our nation founded on the principle of religious freedom?

         0 likes

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