WEST SACRAMENTO (CBS13) —The Sacramento-area Muslim community has faced six different attacks in the past nine months – ranging from a hate letter sent to a Stockton mosque to vandalism at a few others mosques, including mosques in a Davis and Roseville. So a flier sent to West Sacramento residents is causing alarm.
The flier is urging residents to attend Thursday’s city planning meeting at city hall to “dispute” the granting of a permit for renovating the Madinah Islamic Center.
“I see that somebody is really, really against, not just the mosque, I believe it’s more against Islam,” said Mohammad Tariq, who has lived in West Sacramento for more than 35 years.
He has prayed at the mosque past 15 years. But the recent string of attacks against the local Muslim community has amplified his concern over the flier.
“I read that note this morning, and it does concern me,” said Tariq.
No one knows who sent the out the notice. It may not be an explicit threat towards the Muslim community, but some of the language used does have some civil rights groups on alert.
“We are a little concerned that it might be some outsiders, who are trying to get involved and cause divisions in the community,” explained Saad Sweilem, a civil rights attorney with CAIR Sacramento. CAIR is the Council on American Islamic Relations.
The issue over permitting came about after a fire destroyed the back portion of the mosque, which was caused by homeless people squatting in an empty house next to the mosque. When they went to make repairs, they found out they need a permit to operate the house that is located on Fifth Street in a West Sacramento residential neighborhood, before converting it to a house of worship.
Imam Tayyab Nazir leads the congregational prayers at the center, whose congregation is made up of mostly Asian immigrants. It’s a small mosque attended by no more than 30 to 40 worshippers at is busiest prayer service.
Imam Nazir called the flier “unusual,” especially since in the 6 years he has worked here, there have never been any complaints from neighbors or the city.
“Our neighbors are very nice. They know me. We know them. When I come out, they (greet me). If they have questions, they always come to me,” said Nazir.
Even residents who live near the mosque find the letter to be “a bit strange.”
Kimberlee Guillory, who has lived near the mosque for the past five years, does not understand why anyone would raise issue with the mosque and those who attend it.
“They don’t cause a problem, other than maybe parking, when they gather for praying, there are a lot of cars, but nothing other than that,” said Guillory with a laugh.
The City of West Sacramento says they will not comment on this issue until after Thursday’s meeting. As for the permit, it appears the people with the mosque have meet all the requirements mandated by the city.