VACAVILLE (CBS13) — Members of a Vacaville mosque have been told they can’t pray in their own building during the holiest time of the year in Islam.
City leaders said the mosque, which is located inside a home on Bush Street, doesn’t have the right permit because they are worshipping in a residential zone.
This is the first time there’s been an issue in the nearly two decades the mosque has been there. The Vacaville fire chief said the issue was investigated after a complaint from a resident.
The city said they are required to investigate if someone complains about a permitting issue. The mosque applied for a permit but was denied because there’s no designated parking.
“It was shocking because I don’t know, why? What is the problem? We’ve been in this community for a long time,” said Sima Karimi, a member of the mosque.
Karimi said this closure is a huge disruption during one of the holiest months of the year, Ramadan. Being able to pray, together, is important to Islamic culture.
“Our mosque is closed. We are so upset. We don’t know what we should do. It almost made me cry,” said Zarlasht Ansary, a member of the Mosque.
Vacaville Fire Chief Kris Concepcion said the city is willing to work with the mosque to get a permit and solve the parking issue.
“Our code enforcement in the city is complaint-based, so we’re not out looking for different things, we’re not out patrolling,” Concepcion said.
Concepcion said the mosque is still allowed to host prayer sessions, as long as their building is being used as a home, but someone has to live there.
“We’re not discouraging anything were not stopping anything from happening,” Concepcion said.
That’s not the solution mosque president Samim Ansary is looking for. He said his mosque is a registered nonprofit and he wants an official permit. He’s said he’s working with the city on the parking issue but is struggling to get straight answers.
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“We are a small community but peaceful and we just want to have a place of worship like everybody else,” Ansary said.
Ansary said he feels the complaint was targeted, and he feels pressured to leave the area.
“We don’t have a neighbor here. All of the houses around us there’s no houses. So I don’t know who complained at this sensitive time,” he said.
CBS13 asked leaders about the nature of the complaint, was it targeted, was it a form of profiling? They didn’t want to speculate about that.
The nations largest Muslim advocacy’s organization, CAIR, is investigating the issue and providing legal advice to the Mosque.