What does a small local group do when a quiet residential community strongly objects to — and then rejects – the plan to build a 27,000 square foot structure in a space that zoning might allow, at most, a 3000 square foot structure, if it were appropriate for the area, to be built? Appeal to the federal government, of course, and infer a civil rights violation based on the claim that the objection to the project is motivated by religious bias.
That’s exactly what the group that wants to erect a huge mosque in Norwalk did – and, with the federal government’s help, prevailed over the objections of local residents and their elected and appointed officials. The group sought and received the federal power of Eric Holder’s Dept. of Justice to further its plan. The sponsor of the project is a local Muslim community numbering about 100 members that wants to erect a building large enough to accommodate 1000 people, with a lack of parking for anywhere near that number. As it stands now, this proposal is being pushed onto the local government by the federal government, and against the wishes of those abutting neighbors who are most directly affected.
Outside of the local area, news coverage of this issue has been sparse. But the precedents for building mega mosques in small communities is far ranging and has spurred numerous local conflicts in places like Boston, New York, and Tennessee. Previous experience tells us that this will grind on for some time, though the help provided by Holder and company is a new variable not present in the other disputes.
The first coverage of it – in a blog, RadicalIslam.org, by Ryan Mauro – includes this quote from local resident Brian Dough: “I don’t want to live near a Wal-Mart or a 27,000 square foot building, and I don’t think anyone in the neighborhood does. There’s no room, and this is huge.” Norwalk’s Mayor Richard Moccia also affirmed that the local objection to the construction project “was not based on any religious bias.” As Mauro points out though, a local zoning issue quickly moves to a conversation about victimization when the charge of Islamophobia comes into play.
The Ledger will follow this story as it develops.