Neighbors Oppose Construction Of Mosque On Longview Street

24 Dec 2011

By Juan Cole

Some tight knit neighbors in Longview are protesting construction of a mosque on their street.  The spot is technically in Gregg county but right next to their homes.

"We have respect for their religion and we're not against that but we just did not want all the traffic," says neighbor Rhonda Harris.

The land is being cleared and they are preparing for Longview's first mosque.  It's not going up in a busy commercial section of Longview but instead on Amy which is quiet dead end street.  "Why would any establishment would come in here and open up something that's going to be open 24 hours a day with traffic in and out," asks neighbor Elizabeth Owens.  "These streets will not accommodate that."

But they don't have to says Saleem Shabazz, spokesperson for the Islamic center in Longview. He says the crowd won't be more than 40 to 50 people on a given night so it won't be noisy or crowded. "I was hoping that we could accomplish this without any conflict but at the same time I kind of expected it," says Shabazz.

Besides the increase in traffic concerned neighbors tell CBS 19 they are also worried about the noise. A typical mosque will have a PA system announcing when it is time to pray but the community building this mosque says there's no need to worry.   "In consideration and in being good neighbors we can give the call to prayer inside the building and it doesn't need to bother anybody," says Shabazz.

But people who live here say that's not enough. They don't have a problem with the Muslim faith but they want to show love of Christianity.  "The neighborhood joined together and we put up the Jesus signs to support Jesus Christ in our church and our community," says neighbor Howard Hilsher.

The 2500 square foot mosque is on donated land. For the past 20 years Muslims in Longview have met at an apartment complex. "I think it is important for us as Muslims to have something there in the city that represents us," says Shabazz.

Neighbors say they'll continue to fight to have this stopped.

The Islamic center of Longview says the construction should be done in about 6 months.



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