Excerpted From WND: Concerned residents in a small Northern Virginia community have dug up misleading information in the application by a local Islamic center for a permit that would have cleared the way to build a mosque, and it may be an example of a pattern of deception practiced around the country.
The information includes:
-An apparent attempt to mislead residents on the use of facility
-An apparent attempt to mislead residents on the size of the facility
-And an apparent attempt hide the identity of the owner of the property where the facility would be located
On April 5, 2016, by a vote of 4 to 3, the Culpeper County, Virginia, board of supervisors denied an application by the Islamic Center of Culpeper for a “pump and haul” permit on a piece of land where it wants to build a mosque, because such septic systems in the mostly rural area are supposed to be temporary and for emergency use only.
Then, on Dec. 12, 2016, the Justice Department sued the county under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, or RLUIPA, for denying the permit. The DOJ claimed the board denied the permit because of religious reasons and public pressure, citing the fact the county had issued 26 such permits since 1992 and denied only one of the last 19.
However, in 2002 the Virginia Department of Health found that particular site unsuitable for a septic tank or the alternative, a drain field. Additionally, the supervisors never mentioned religion as a reason for denying the permit.
Supervisor Gary Deal told the local paper, the Daily Progress, he didn’t have a discriminatory bone in his body and that the Islamic Center request did not meet the hardship requirement, saying: “Any hardship would be self-inflicted. I can’t support it.”
Supervisor Jack Frazier told the paper that if the site had been a private residence with a failing septic system he would have supported a pump-and-haul permit, but he also found there was no such hardship.
Supervisor Bill Chase said, “I’m dead set against this – not because of religion, but because of use.”
Applicant Mohammad Nawabe said,”It looks like discrimination to me,” and he blamed the mentality of “small country people.
Since the DOJ filed suit, concerned residents have dug up some apparently misleading information in the case made by the Islamic Center.
Nawabe had told the board that up to 15 people would attend the meetings at the envisioned mosque. Fellow Islamic Center member Nabeel Babar said the congregation was “really small and like a family, and it’s still like that.”
The original application from the Islamic Center of Culpeper stated the proposed use for the site would be “for praying and meeting once a week.”
However, the gofundme page of the Islamic Center of Culpeper, VA, or ICC, details much bigger plans for the site.
The page says: “The ICC Board of Directors has planned to purchase its own property to build a proper Islamic Center in the Town of Culpeper. We plan to have a full-fledged Masjid (mosque), Weekend Islamic School and Youth Center, insha’Allah.”
So, there appears to be a rather large discrepancy between the applicants’ claims and the claims on the Islamic Center’s website over the size of the facility and its use.
A “full-fledged mosque” certainly appears to be something exceeding the needs of a 15 members gathering for a weekly prayer session.
And a mosque, Weekend Islamic School and Youth Center would certainly seem to provide more than just a place to pray.
The applicants also appeared to mislead the board over just how big the facility might become, as the Islamic Center website calls itself “a small but rapidly growing community.”
There’s another apparent discrepancy in the deed and a question about just how ownership of the property changed hands.
Five days after the haul-and-pump permit application was denied, on April 19, 2016, the sale of the property was initially recorded in the Culpeper Times for $15,000 to Iglesia Pentecostal Cristo Viene INC.
Judging by state records and its Facebook page, Iglesia Pentecostal Cristo Viene appears to be a Spanish-language Pentecostal church in Culpeper.
A Deed of Correction was submitted on June 22, 2016, “correcting” the name of the owner and changing it to the Islamic Center of Culpeper.
However, the Virginia law for correcting deeds states: “Correction deeds can help to clarify the manner in which title to the property is held by the same, initially named grantee, but they cannot be used to change the grantee or to add or omit a grantee.”
It appears the Deed of Correction was used precisely to change the name on the deed, an apparent violation of the law.
Concerned residents of Culpeper told WND they suspect the name was changed after the sale was announced to hide the true identity of the owner, the Islamic Center.
Attorney and constitutional law instructor Karen Lugo is an expert in this field, as the author of the recently released “Mosques in America: A Guide to Accountable Permit Hearings and Continuing Citizen Oversight.”
She suggested the Culpeper case may be part of larger pattern of misleading mosque applications and is currently conducting research to confirm that.
Lugo first noted “the noncompliant deed transfer, the application in another organization’s name, and a generic assertion that there would be one weekly meeting and prayer.”
That led her to observe: “But when checking the website, and by the way this is a pattern and it’s happening in cases across the country, there’s a very generic indication as to there will be some prayer meeting. But when you go to websites or look at a parent organization’s existing meeting practices, you find out that there will be an array of very wide-ranging activities from schools to daycare to counseling to education.”
WND asked if she would call that intentionally deceptive.
“I would say that the result is misleading,” Lugo replied.
She said municipalities are often in the dark as to the real plans for a mosque unless they know to consult external sources.
She said the result is often “like the situation of al-Farouk Youth and Family Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, where the testimony at the hearing was they would have only 150 people, generally on Fridays, and a maximum of a maximum of 200 for highest level services. like Ramadan services.”
“Immediately those numbers were inflated by multiples of 10. There were thousands congregating during Ramadan and hundreds congregating, 800 or 900, on some Fridays.”
WND asked if Lugo saw such a misleading approach as part of a pattern.
She noted that mosque applicants are submitting numbers that typically that show 150.
“That’s a number that I’m seeing repeated. It’s for 150 and for general prayer. That the number arises as an interesting coincidence,” she said.
She mentioned another recurring feature.
“It is very rare that the application is filed as a mosque. It’s usually called a cultural center or a community center, and, or, in some cases it doesn’t even relate to the kind of group. And Culpeper is one of those in which it was very difficult to determine who was applying.” Keep reading