CAIR-FL: W. PALM MOSQUE LOOKS NORTH
The Muslim community has opened Palm Beach County's seventh mosque, a northern branch of the bursting worship center in central West Palm Beach.
With a Muslim population in central and north county estimated at 8,000, up from about 2,500 a decade ago, Muslim leaders say the northern part of the county needed a new center to accommodate worshipers who live in Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, Wellington and other western neighborhoods.
Tariq Iqbal is one of those western residents. He lives in The Acreage and had to travel 45 minutes to the mosque at 4893 Purdy Lane in West Palm Beach. The new mosque, which opened a month ago in a storefront near Military Trail and Northlake Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens, is only 15 minutes from his home.
"It was not an easy ride," said Iqbal, 57, a systems administrator for the city of Riviera Beach. "Now I can easily go at lunchtime."
The Purdy Lane mosque, known as the Muslim Community of Palm Beach, attracts about 250 Sunni worshipers on a typical Friday, the day of congregational worship. It started in a rental home on the same property in 1988. The community expanded the property to about 11 acres and built a $600,000 mosque in 1996. Still, the property has only 60 parking spaces, creating a crunch on Fridays and during community events.
Although Palm Beach County's Muslim population is growing, it still trails Miami-Dade County, which has about 40,000 Muslims, and Broward County, with about 20,000, said Altaf Ali, Florida director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. About 10,000 Muslims live in Palm Beach County, Ali said.