Pompano Beach Abdesslan Jerrardi regularly stops at the Islamic Center of South Florida for Friday prayers.

But Jerrardi, of Margate, longs for the day when Muslims are not packed into the men’s worship room, elbow to elbow.

“A lot people want to come here, but where’s the room?” he said.

Prayer areas aren’t the only tight spaces. Drivers cram cars into the mosque’s tiny parking lot or sometimes are ticketed for illegally parking on the sidewalks near the building on Northeast Sixth Street. About 130 children learn about Islam across the street at Pompano Middle School in seven rented classrooms.

The center’s need for more space led it to plan a 29,000-square-foot building on a 4.8-acre site in the predominantly black northwest area, a proposal bitterly opposed by some residents who wanted to see affordable housing there. . .

Rev. O’Neal Dozier of the Worldwide Christian Center Church, an outspoken critic of the project who called Islam a “dangerous and evil cult,” claims the mosque’s leaders share links to terrorist groups. He wants low-income housing built on the site as the city had originally planned.

In May, Pompano resident Rodney Wright filed suit, asking the court to block construction of the mosque because it would be a “nuisance.”

But local Muslim leaders say the mosque is needed to serve South Florida’s growing Muslim population.

Altaf Ali, the director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, estimates 70,000 Muslims live in Broward, Palm and Miami-Dade counties. There are 27 mosques in the three counties.

In Broward County, the number of Muslims increased by 2,000 people over the past five years to 20,000, Ali said. The population in Palm Beach grew by 1,000 to 10,000 people.


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