Not the Little Mosque on the Prairie
When Islamic advocate Ahmed Bedier traveled to Santa Clara County a few months ago to lend support for a proposed Islamic center, he declared that opposition to the mosque was "Islamophobic" in nature. He disingenuously compared objections against a mosque south of San Jose with the Washington, D.C. exposé of the Muslim Brotherhood's infiltration of the U.S. government, led by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Bedier, the former communications director for CAIR -- an unindicted co-conspirator in the Hamas terrorism financing trial -- painted both events as blatant evidence of endemic discrimination against Muslims in America, even though those events were distinctly different.
The work by five brave members of Congress to uncover an inside-influence operation in Washington is miles apart geographically and politically from the genuine environment and land-use concerns of a rural community. Yet those local concerns were swept aside and portrayed as part of broader anti-Muslim attitudes in order to secure approval of the Cordoba Center in San Martin. Accusations of anti-Muslim attitudes or "Islamophobia" are a tool currently being used over and over again across the country as Muslims undertake a nationwide campaign of mosque-building. The mosque in Santa Clara County is yet another example of how elected officials, rushing to portray themselves as open-minded and fair, are actually yielding to Muslim efforts of Islamization of the United States.
Bedier is the founder of the Tampa-based United Voices for America, an anti-Israel Muslim advocacy group whose goal is to portray Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance. In his testimony to the Santa Clara County planning commission, Bedier falsely claimed that if the application to acquire the property had been for a church or synagogue, no opposition would have been raised.
"People are being intolerant because they don't like how their community is changing," he opined. "We live in a constitutional republic which protects the rights of every citizen," stated the known supporter of Hamas and Hezb'allah.
Bedier complained about the unrelenting environmental testing required for approval and deceitfully insisted, "With the frivolous testing and retesting over 6 years it is obvious that this is not about water contamination. The reality from what I've seen is that it is about bigotry."
Yet Bedier's claims of bigotry were an attempt to obfuscate the real issues in this case -- namely, that difficult and real physical challenges exist to acquire and develop the site.
In 2007, when a local pastor, Kyle Haynes of the Shadow Mountain Baptist Church, expressed an interest in buying the 15-acre parcel and checked with the county, the county clerk told him not to bother with an application for the site. The reason: he couldn't possibly pass the required soil-percolation levels necessary to gain approval to build at the location. Soil-percolation levels are set and regulated by the county to insure adequate septic drainage. Discovering this, Pastor Haynes moved on and eventually acquired another site in nearby Morgan Hill, where he built his church and a school.
Previously, in 2003, the Lusamerica Fish Company had expressed interest in the same location, applied to build an industrial facility, and was denied building permits after percolation tests failed.
San Martin residents are justifiably concerned about soil percolation and threats to their water supply. For nearly ten years, the Olin Corp., a flare manufacturing facility that closed in 1988, engaged in cleanup efforts and supplied local residents with bottled water after perchlorate, a chemical that disrupts thyroid function, was discovered in the ground water in 2003. Local residents lost personal use of their wells for years.
Besides soil percolation problems, the 15-acre parcel on Monterey Road in San Martin is also considered a flood or high-water table area and an earthquake hazard zone at risk for contaminated sewage overflow. Seasonal flooding is another problem in the region because the water does not drain or percolate properly. During winter rains, local residents hesitate to tax the septic system by flushing toilets or showering for fear that the water will rise above the water table. Residents are understandably worried that wastewater disposal and the proposed Cordoba Center cemetery will pose a threat to water quality. Due to soil permeability, the burial of even domestic animals has been prohibited in the area.
In addition to drainage and contamination issues, the Santa Clara County land use policy states that commercial, industrial, and institutional projects may be established only when they serve the needs of the local population and result in a net reduction of travel. Demographic data for the area indicate that the mosque would not be "local serving," as required by law. Instead, it would by necessity draw from other cities in the area, thus increasing the local travel demand.
Besides local regulations, the mosque cemetery does not even meet World Health Organization (WHO) standards for the disposal of human and animal remains. Guidelines contained in The Impact of Cemeteries on the Environment and Public Health state that burials must not be within 820 feet of a well from which potable water is drawn. Near the San Martin mosque site, eight wells exist within 820 feet of the proposed cemetery, one within only 110 feet. Serious concern exists about possible pollution of nearby drinking water wells because decaying human corpses can easily mix with groundwater beneath the site. Plus, traditional Islamic burial practice requires placement of cloth-shrouded bodies directly into the ground. It is more than a coincidence that county cemetery requirements written in the 1950s are now being revised.
When the South Valley Islamic Center (SVIC) acquired the San Martin parcel for the Cordoba Center Project with the intent of building a 5,000-square-foot mosque, a 2,800-square-foot community center, and a two-acre cemetery to accommodate 2,400 bodies, area residents were understandably alarmed. An employee of the environmental consulting firm that conducted percolation tests at the site reported that they all failed.
The unsuitability of the site for a mosque and cemetery might have stopped the mosque were it not that it is part of a larger, nationwide mosque-building effort. The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), another unindicted co-conspirator in the Hamas funding trial, is supplying the grant to develop the property. ISNA, the largest Muslim organization on the continent, promotes extremist Wahhabi indoctrination materials to the majority of mosques in North America. Through its affiliate, the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), ISNA holds the mortgages of 50%-80% of all the mosques in the United States and Canada. At its annual conventions in the U.S., ISNA has invited supporters and funders of al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The group was listed by U.S. senators on the Senate Committee on Finance as an organization that "finances terrorism and perpetuates violence."
Despite problems with flooding, water contamination, traffic, zoning, failed testing, and the filing of an incomplete application, the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the mosque project in San Martin without considering the legitimate objections of local residents. It is probably no coincidence that Mike Wasserman, one of the supervisors who strongly supported this project, received the endorsement of the local Arab American Congress.
The swift approval of the Cordoba Mosque project smacks of political influence and portends upcoming environmental and zoning compromises in the service of mosque proliferation in America. Certainly, in this case, the letter of the law was subverted to green-light the development of the property by the SVIC. With that in mind, local laws and regulations are likely to be ignored in the future to suit the needs of the mosque community. With the Holder Justice Department's history of outreach work with ISNA and its propensity to wage mosque warfare on behalf of CAIR, any impediments to the operation of the mosque, community center, and cemetery operations will likely be settled by DOJ lawsuits amidst further cries of Islamophobia and racism.