A group of South Florida Muslims is planning to build a new Islamic center
in western Sunrise, complete with a mosque, a day care, a K-12 school and a
Islamic leaders say the center will be the largest of its kind in South
Florida, and that it is needed to serve a growing Muslim population here.
The center needed permission from the Sunrise City Commission to build on
the southwest corner of Northwest 55th Street and 108th Avenue. That's
because the site -- within the Sunrise Commerce Park -- is in an industrial
district. The commission granted the exception Tuesday night without
The project will include 70,000 square feet of buildings on 11 1/2 acres.
Construction could begin early next year, said Dr. Zahid Qureshi, one of
the center's founders.
The Islamic center has had a presence in Sunrise since 1991, Qureshi said,
when it opened a school on Northwest 103rd Avenue.
Since then, the 150-student school has had to turn away many prospective
students, because of a lack of space.
About 50,000 Muslims now live in South Florida, said Altaf Ali, a local
representative of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a nonprofit
group based in Washington, D.C.
The growing Islamic population is also the reason for a growing number of
Islamic centers, Ali said.
''Ten years ago we only had two in the entire tri-county area,'' he said.
''Today we have 11.''
The Sunrise school would accommodate almost 500 children.
Islamic centers are places of worship. Some include schools, and some offer
social services to the community. Qureshi stressed they are not madrassas,
traditional religious schools.
''We teach the same subjects as any other school'', he said. ''In fact, we
have Christian and Jewish teachers. The religious portion is only 30-45
minutes a day.''
Qureshi conceded that raising funds has not been easy. He said the project
is expected to cost $7 million to $8 million..