Sunday, August 15, 2010

Supporting the right of Temecula Muslims to build a mosque

Islamophobia reared its ugly head not only in Manhattan, but also closer to home, in Temecula, CA, a bedroom suburb in the high desert of Riverside County between San Bernardino and San Diego. This community of 100,000 souls is best known for being conservative and fundamentalist Christian, but those of other faiths live there as well, including Mormons and Muslims. In fact, there is a thriving interfaith council.

When the Muslims decided to build a mosque in Temecula, some of their extremist Christian neighbors began making unfounded accusations about Islam, associating it with terrorism or even "illegal" Mexican immigrants. But moderates in the local communtiy defended the right of Muslims to build a house of worship. And many outside groups, including the Quakers of Santa Monica and Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, also expressed their support. It's good to know that we can all stand together as Americans and as people of faith to support each other's right to worship as our conscience dictates. That's what makes America truly great, a "holy experiment" (in the words of William Penn).
Here are letters of support from Santa Monica Friends and ICUJP.

See and

Imam Mahmoud Harmoush
Islamic Center of Temecula Valley
42188 Rio Nedo, Suite #A,
Temecula, CA 92590

To the Members of the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley:

Peace be unto you, salaam aleicum, from your Friends (the Quakers) of Santa Monica Friends Meeting. As members of the Religious Society of Friends, we practice a faith rooted in our testimony of equality: every person is equal in the sight of God, and therefore deserves fair and equal treatment. We therefore support your right to build a mosque.

One of the early leaders of the Quaker movement was William Penn, who established a colony named after him (Pennsylvania) in which people of all faiths were permitted to practice their religion freely. This kind of tolerance was highly unusual, almost unheard of, during this time of religious war and persecution among Christians in the 17th century. It was no accident that a century later our nation was founded upon the principle of religious toleration in the Quaker city of Philadelphia, the city of brotherly (and sisterly) love.

We therefore join with other people of faith to stand in solidarity with you in your efforts to worship God as your conscience dictates. One of our members, Anthony Manousos, has been fasting during Ramadan since 9/11 and has developed close bonds of friendship with the Muslim community. He has invited leaders of the Muslim community, such as Shakeel Syed, to share their insights with us, for which we are deeply grateful. May the blessings of peace be with you always!

Signed: Stanford Searl, Anthony Manousos, Darlene Lancer, Fred Buell, Don McCormick, Molly Hood, Kathryn Forsman, Sarah Rose House-Lightner, Celia Carroll, Debbie, Nancy Fuller, Henry Yang, Irene Webb, Elizabeth Cocca, Cynthia Waite, Heather Scotland, Jeff. Graceon.

To the Members of the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley:

Peace be unto you (salaam aleicum) from your friends in the Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (, an organization founded after 9/11 in the belief that religious communities must stop blessing war and violence. This is to let you know that we fully support your efforts to build a mosque in Temecula where you can worship God according to the dictates of your conscience.

We oppose Islamophobia in all its forms and are grieved that many Muslims have become targets of prejudice caused by misrepresentations of you faith. We also are saddened to learn that the many Americans are so blinded by fear and prejudice that they cannot treat their neighbors as they would wish to be treated.

It is heartening to learn of the support you have received from a range of community and faith groups. We affirm our commitment to promote interfaith understanding and respect so that our nation, and the world, can be a place of justice, peace, and Love.

Signed: George Regas, Steve Rohde, Edward Fisher, Phillip Way, Carlean Anthony, Carol Frances Likins, Tom Honore, Paul Nugent, Bonnie Blustein, Jon Turesky, Jan Honore, Anthony Manousos, Karen Millett, Margaret Lungren, Lydia Lopez, John Forney, Stephen L. Fiske, Rita Lowenthal, Maricela Guzman, Fran Wilson, Father Chris Ponnet.

1 comment:

  1. My children and I were proud to participate in the July 30, 2010 counter protest organized by the Interfaith Council of Murrieta and Temecula Valley.

    Thank you for continuing to promote peace