The construction of a mosque here was once the subject of an
anonymous flyer warning residents about Muslim “extremists” with possible
“connections to terrorists.”

It was the focus of long, sometimes emotional, zoning board hearings,
exhaustive traffic studies, and detailed site plans.

But with township approvals in place and the controversy fading, local
Muslims yesterday marked a happy milestone: the groundbreaking for the mosque.

They also looked back over a struggle that brought people of many faiths
together in defense of the proposed mosque. About 30 of their new friends
helped them celebrate yesterday.

“I think this has been a very big unifying force,” Zia Rahman, managing
trustee of the Muslim American Community Association, said of the mosque
project. “… The mosque has become an excuse to bring people together.”

Muslims seeking to build mosques in the United States have often met
resistance, especially after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack, said academics who
have tracked their efforts before local governments.

But mosque proponents, neighbors and politicians who came to the
groundbreaking said the early opposition was replaced by growing support


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