Mosque-building rises as Muslim American clout grows

mosque-building-boomBy Angel Jennings and Teresa Watanabe, The Los Angeles Times, 6/23/13

The opening this weekend of a new mosque in Rowland Heights is powerful evidence of a building boom of such facilities in Southern California and around the nation.

Over the last several years, new mosques have risen in Mission Viejo, Irvine, Anaheim, Reseda, Rancho Cucamonga, Rosemead, Diamond Bar and Tustin. Additional mosques are slated for Temecula, Ontario, Lomita and Corona.

Strikingly, the new mosques have been funded entirely by local Muslims, who began settling in the region in the 1960s. Before 2001, new mosques were often funded by foreigners; the Saudis financed the King Fahad Mosque in Culver City, and Libyans helped build Masjid Omar near USC.

Stricter government scrutiny of foreign investments from Islamic countries after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, along with reluctance by local Muslims about accepting foreign money, helped change the practices, according to Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California.

"Post 9/11, the dynamic completely changed," Syed said. "The Muslim community at large in North America realized it is better if we develop our own funding, however long it takes." ...

The mosque construction attracted no local opposition -- unlike projects in Temecula, Lomita and Ontario. There, neighbors raised concerns about potential problems with noise, traffic and parking -- objections Muslims have successfully addressed, according to Ameena Mirza Qazi of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Some of those debates were marked by anti-Islam comments and fears about terrorism expressed by some opponents. (Read the full article)