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MI: Many Oppose New Mosque


A hearing on a proposed mosque along Ellsworth Road in Ypsilanti Township drew more than 150 people Tuesday, with most of them opposing the project.

"This is the wrong location for it," said Peter Williamson, who objected to the size of the project. "I would want the Muslim community to enjoy it, but it does not fit in the neighborhood."

The Hidaya Muslim Community Association is proposing an 85,770-square-foot-community center on seven acres along Ellsworth Road between Golfside and Hewitt. The project includes a mosque, a recreation facility, an educational center and 264 parking spaces, said Khaled Nehlawi, who is in charge of construction and lives in the neighborhood.

The project would cost about $6 million and would be built in phases, he said. The first phase includes a 27,000-square-foot mosque, and the rest would follow as funding becomes available several years from now, he said.

The township Planning Commission held the hearing Tuesday but postponed voting on the project until the association addresses issues regarding access and utility easements. The commission also instructed township staff to mail additional notices to neighborhood residents to inform them of the project.

Nehlawi said he was disappointed with the decision, but the association will work with the township to resolve the outstanding issues. He said organizers will talk to neighborhood residents to clear up any concerns they have about the project.

Many Muslims in Washtenaw County pray either at the Islamic Center of Ann Arbor, 2301 Plymouth Road, or at a mosque in Canton. The demand has outgrown those facilities, Nehlawi said. The Islamic Center accommodates about 350 people, and nearly 10,000 Muslims live in Washtenaw County, he said.

Neighbors at the hearing Tuesday also expressed concerns about increased traffic, loudspeakers sounding the call to prayer five times a day, the holding of late functions for a large number of people, having dormitories in the facility, and holding functions during the last 10 days of Ramadan, the month of fasting for Muslims.


Muslim Support for Suicide Attacks Down Sharply


Popular support for suicide bombings has dropped sharply across the Muslim world in what could suggest a rejection of Islamist militant tactics among Muslims, a global survey released on Tuesday said.

The 2007 Pew Global Attitudes survey, based on polling data from 47 countries, also showed waning confidence in al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden among Muslims but said the United States is viewed as the biggest threat by a majority of people in Muslim countries.

"The marked decline in the acceptance of suicide bombing is one of several findings that suggest a possible broader rejection of extremist tactics among many in the Muslim world," the Washington-based Pew Research Center said in a report that accompanied the data.
Reuters Pictures

Nearly six years after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, Pew found dwindling support for suicide bombings in seven of eight Muslim countries since 2002.

In Lebanon, which is experiencing its worst violence since the 1975-90 civil war, the number of Muslims who say suicide attacks are often or sometimes justified fell from 74 percent to 34 percent.

In Pakistan, which has also seen a rise in violence this year, support for suicide bombings dropped to 9 percent from 33 percent in 2002.

"The pattern is equally stark among Muslims in Bangladesh and Indonesia, where support for suicide bombing as a tactic in defense of Islam is down by at least half," Pew said.


Chappelle Produces Muslim Comedy Film


Cult comic DAVE CHAPPELLE is to produce a new movie which will introduce comedy fans to the world's funniest Muslims. Allah Made Me Funny - The Official Muslim Comedy Tour features America's top Muslim comics Preacher Moss, Azhar Usman and Mohammed Amer. Chappelle says, "Allah Made Me Funny is one of the funniest and most important comedy shows in America today. These guys are pioneers in the world of Muslim comedy and I am proud to be attached to this project."


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