Religious Groups Gear Up For Margate Mosque Protest
|Photo by Matthew Hendley|
|"No Jihad in our backyard," one of the "pro-American" sentiments displayed at today's announcement|
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Religious groups, tea party activists, and residents of Margate showed up this morning to the city's Masjid Jamaat Al-Mumineen mosque, in preparation for a protest tonight to get the mosque shut down.
The mosque's imam, 24-year-old Izhar Khan, pleaded not guilty late last week to charges of the Pakistani Taliban. Now the religious and tea party folks want the city, state, or federal government to shut the mosque down -- at the very least, launch an investigation into its ties to the Taliban.
No evidence has been provided by the feds that points toward the mosque being tied to the Taliban, but you wouldn't guess that based on what speakers had to say today outside the mosque.
Pastor Mark Boykin of Church of All Nations in Boca Raton says the activities the mosque is engaging in "is nothing short of treason," and calls for a full investigation into the mosque -- admitting having no facts beyond the arrest of Khan.
Shortly after Khan's arrest last month, the mosque distanced its ties from Khan, and explained the positive influence the mosque's worshipers had on the local community.
Citizens of Margate's Patrick Laffey says he attends a local church and services the community, and has never seen any mosque members providing services to the community.
"These people," Laffey says, pointing at the mosque, "have never assimilated into the community."
So we asked Americans Against Hate's Joe Kaufman: If you're presuming the guilt of Kahn and the mosque, what are you going to do if they're cleared of any wrongdoing?
"I will take back my words if he's found not guilty," he tells New Times.
Meanwhile, Nezar Hamze -- the executive director of the South Florida's Council on American-Islamic Relations -- tells New Times that protesters are "anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim bigots," which he says he finds "disgusting."
"They don't understand what it means to be American," he says. "They don't understand the Constitution."
The demonstrators plan on protesting outside the mosque, at 3222 Holiday Springs Boulevard in Margate, at 7 p.m. tonight.
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