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Rezoning For Allah Not A Good Idea

By Greg L | 22 May 2013 | Manassas City | 17 Comments

Manassas has a tough fiscal problem to solve.  Commercial development in the city has been stagnant at best, and the city wants to invest in all sorts of new infrastructure projects.  In a “have your cake and eat it too” moment it decided the way to address this was to raise property taxes by an eye-popping amount while doing nothing to address commercial and industrial development.  To make this fiscal equation even a little bit harder, the Manassas Muslim Association has asked the council to rezone one of the last parcels of undeveloped commercially zoned land to allow them to build a mosque on it, which would remove it from the tax rolls.

The council’s response has not only to seriously consider this, but to start calling the land use planning in the city “antiquated” and plan on spending $25,000 for a study to entirely revamp all the land use planning in the city.  That would presumably incorporate the proposal from the Manassas Muslim Association, given how the Association’s president has favorably reacted.  The last time the city decided to spend time and money on some sort of comprehensive study like this, the result generated a massive laundry list of capital improvement projects and lead to what became a 7% hike in property taxes.  Prior to that, a comprehensive study was initiated that allowed an adult-themed business in Old Town.  Needless to say, the track record here isn’t quite encouraging.

What really caught my eye in the Washington Post article about this was a name: Muneer Baig, who is the president of the Association.  I’d heard that name before.  That’s right, Baig was trolling the Prince William County Republicans facebook group for quite a while about a year ago, posting articles that advocated open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens and telling us all he was a Republican who wanted to help stamp out racism.  I had a few civil “frank exchanges of ideas” with him during that time, which is why his name stuck in my head.

This exchange in particular involved him promoting a document whose signatories included the group “American Muslims For Palestine” which is a disturbingly anti-jewish group with close connections to Hamas and convicted terrorists.  I called him on it, and he dismissed the concerns entirely saying “Radicals among us are giving them a reason to justify their existence. So they may be calling for destruction of Israel (I disagree), but radicals among us are DESTROYING our own NATION.”  Even though he says he personally disagrees with calling for the destruction of Israel, he doesn’t seem to mind promoting the propaganda of those who quite clearly do, and a quick visit to his facebook page contains plenty more virulent anti-Zionist propaganda that was churned out to a fawning press by none other than Hamas.

A bit of googling shows some close connections that might reinforce such concerns.  Baig has invited Johari Abdul Malik, Sheikh Mohammed Al Hanooti and Imam Mohammed Majid to events at the Manassas Muslim Association, religious leaders who are active in the ADAMS center in Herndon and the Dar Al-Hijirah mosque that the 9-11 terrorists used.  While it is extremely difficult to navigate between Islamist apologists who dismiss all concerns as simple fear, racism and bigotry regadless of their merit, and some of the folks fighting Islamism who quite irresponsibly see every single Muslim as a terrorist threat even if there is no evidence to even suggest a valid concern, when you see a body of evidence start to pile up it should at least raise a set of questions worth asking.

Johari Abdul Malik is somewhat infamous for defending convicted terrorists Ahmed Omar Abu Ali and Ali Al Timimi.  While standing up for terror isn’t necessarily dangerous in itself, it certainly isn’t great on your resume.

Abdul-Malik defended Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, a Dar Al Hijrah, member who is serving a life sentence in a federal prison for nine counts of terrorism including plotting to assassinate President George W. Bush, kill members of Congress and bomb restaurants, nightclubs and other public places across America.

”Our whole community is under siege,” Abdul-Malik told the New York Times (February 27, 2005) ”They don’t see this as a case of criminality. They see it as a civil rights case. As a frontal attack on their community.

”The feeling I get here on a daily basis must be what it was like to be a member of Martin Luther King Jr.’s church following the case of Rosa Parks. People always ask, ‘What is the latest from the courthouse?”’

Abdul- Malik also defended Ali Al Timimi , a Muslim cleric of Fairfax, Va., who was convicted in April, 2005 and is serving a life sentence in a federal prison for counseling others to wage war against the United States and use firearms and explosives in furtherance of violent crimes.

”There is a view many Muslims have when they come to America that you could not be arrested for something you say,” Abdul- Malik, told the New York Times (April 27, 2005) when asked about the conviction. ”But now they have discovered they are not free to speak their minds. And if our opinions are out of vogue in the current climate, we feel we are all at risk.”

Abdul-Malik was often cited as the spokesman for the Dar Al Hijrah mosque and he used his position there to defend numerous convicted terrorists and question the judicial system in the United States.

Speaking of what looks good on a resume, Sheikh Mohammad Al Hanooti indicates multiple ties to the Muslim Brotherhood in America.

A 2001 FBI memo identifies current ISNA-affiliated Fiqh Council of North America Mohammad Al-Hanooti as a participant in a 1993 Philadelphia meeting of “senior leaders of HAMAS, the Holy Land Relief Foundation and the Islamic Association of Palestine. The memo also cites FBI informants who said that Al-Hanooti “was a big supporter of HAMAS and that “it was well known in the Palestinian community in the northern New Jersey area that Al-Hanooti was an active HAMAS supporter, purportedly holding fund-raising activities, as well as supporting visitors to the United States from Israel and Jordan, to speak on behalf of HAMAS. ” Another FBI informant stated that “In 1993, that Al-Hanooti collected over six million U. S. dollars for support of HAMAS in Israel. ” 

As for Imam Mohammad Majid, his record is a little better.  President Obama appointed him to a working group within the Department of Homeland Security where he successfully lobbied to remove 700 documents and 300 presentations from the FBI’s training curriculum on terrorism.  His concern was that these materials might contain the suggestion that the laws and doctrines of Islam might have something to do with Islamic terrorism, and that wouldn’t be a nice thing to tell federal agents tasked with keeping us safe from people who should “Allahu Akbar” while they kill innocent Americans on US soil. 

None of this should be construed to imply that Mr. Baig himself is any kind of threat.  I’m pretty certain that anyone as ham-handed as this is likely to be pretty harmless, although he can be pretty annoying.  What it should suggest that the City of Manassas is in no way compelled to harm their precarious fiscal situation in order to comply with requests from folks that run around in circles with those who think Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood are noble warriors for Islam and hope to see Israel and the Jews wiped off the map.  If some religious entity that had accomplished great things for the city came to the City Council and asked for a rezoning, I might — even in these precarious circumstances — understand why they’d do what was asked of them.

The Manassas Muslim Association is absolutely not one of those entities.

UPDATE: The Manassas City Council approved the rezoning study and dedicated $25,000 in public funds for that purpose on June 17th by a vote of 4-2.  Only councilmembers Aveni and Lovejoy opposed it.

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  1. yet again said on 23 May 2013 at 6:33 am:
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    Liz Via proposes a study to provide cover for scared council members is another possible title to your post.

  2. Steve Thomas said on 23 May 2013 at 2:41 pm:
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    Or another title: Manassas City Council decides not to base consideration of requests on the question “What is the content of your prayers?”.

    Really, don’t we conservatives expect government to apply laws and considerations equally? Isn’t this the (legitimate) complaint of the Tea Party (et. al.) against the IRS, that they were targeted unfairly for their politcal and religious beliefs?

    Let the City spend a little money to have someone without a vested interest study the issue. If the recommendation is to leave it zoned industrial for revenue purposes, then so be it. If the recommendation is for it to be rezoned, so be it. Then let the council deliberate on it, with some independent data upon which to base their arguments.

    Few can say they fought harder or more publically against KK’s and other adult businesses than me. Let the record show that the study you cite above was for the expressed purpose of regulating something which cannot be banned out-right. Banning them would invite a huge lawsuit.

    Sure beats a law suit and a multi-million dollar settlement, which is exactly what hasty action will net. Nothing is on fire. No reason to rush. Give all parties and interests due consideration. Just refusing outright would be the “easy way”.

    Any Marine will tell you that the “easy way” is always mined.

  3. Jon Wong said on 23 May 2013 at 4:10 pm:
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    Isn’t there enough scum in the city without importing more?

  4. Annoymous said on 23 May 2013 at 5:27 pm:
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    Quick, someone tell the Chairman of Republican Party in Manassas that he is posting on the wrong blog! This is not the blog where he regularly pals with and fawns over all the haters of all things conservative. Sheesh.

  5. Anonymous said on 23 May 2013 at 5:40 pm:
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    I think maybe you just dont want to see towel heads and wierd looking africans congregating in one place.

    Manassas has allways been tolerant of other religions. We forget how Catholics were considerd in the south in the past. Manassas had a parrish in town but not at the center like the presbyterians or the methodist were. The blacks had there church on the other end of town.

    Useing industrial land for a church is a bad idea period for tax purposes.

    By the way, if I want to worship the blue elephat or pay homage to the snake god, I have a right to do so as such!

    Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting “Jesus Christ,” so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.
    -Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

    What is it that you dont get?

  6. Scout said on 23 May 2013 at 8:06 pm:
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    Having beaten the immigrant corpse to a pulp, it appears we are now trying to get some big anti-Islam thing going here. Zoning decisions are the same whether the religious entity involved is Buddhist, Hindu, Baptist, Jewish, or Jehovah’s Witnesses (or any other thing you can think of). It may or may not be a good zoning decision. But if it’s a bad decision, it’s not because this is a Muslim place of worship as opposed to Anglicans or Mormons.

  7. Greg L said on 23 May 2013 at 10:07 pm:
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    I agree that a zoning decision in itself should be entirely neutral towards the applicant, but I haven’t seen any other applicants have their request transformed into a complete municipal zoning overhaul study that costs taxpayers additional money. That’s entirely unnecessary and quite extraordinary to the process. Zoning applicants are not entitled at all to have the entire zoning plan overhauled just because they’ve made a request to the city, and no other applicant has ever received such treatment.

    If one was to consider an entity that would be deserving of extra accommodation and consideration, this entity would absolutely NOT be the one that deserves it. The usual order of business worked for everyone else, it should work for the Manassas Muslim Association as well.

  8. Anonymous said on 23 May 2013 at 10:46 pm:
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    I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.
    -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Hopkinson, March 13, 1789

  9. Anonymous said on 23 May 2013 at 10:51 pm:
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    Would you be this pissed off it were a cristian church? The city just wants to study the traffic flow. MAG screws up traffic on 28 every sunday.

    Its a house of worship so let it be.

  10. Anonymous said on 23 May 2013 at 10:55 pm:
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    We can think free because we are free!

  11. Anonymous said on 23 May 2013 at 11:03 pm:
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    If I want to wear daughty clothes and speek a language that others dont like or live a life style that others dont approve of, that is my liberty.

    At the same time ought I be expected to respect a person of my own judgement to me of a less than moral character or someone who I feal that I should not have to socialize with be forced down my throat by some liberal hypocrites who say but not do by there moral code!

    Jimmy Carter at least lived by his code and does so to this day! Remember he sent Amy to DC public schools! What about this clown? He is a snake but at least we are not on Libyian soil as a McCain presidency would have us!

  12. Annoymous said on 24 May 2013 at 6:28 am:
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    Greg has it right, the issue here is special treatment for some but not for others when it comes to zoning.

    Recall back 10 years ago or so a when a Mormon Church was interested in coming near a residential neighborhood where the zoning did not allow it and the city was very firm as were many residents in saying No. The city has spent quite enough of my money already on tax increases and studies of one sort or another. Please stop. Now. Thanks.

  13. Annoymous said on 24 May 2013 at 7:25 am:
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    Elizabeth Via, who makes over $125,000 per year plus generous benefits can’t figure this our herself and make a recommendation to Council?

    I suppose she is very busy over at the Manassas Museum and with organizing red light/green light games for the city.

  14. Anonymous said on 24 May 2013 at 10:08 am:
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    Religion and the obvious special treatment aside council is thumbing their noses at the city residents. Let’s not forget that council just finished complaining that they needed more money and passed a historic tax increase down the throats of homeowners. As a city homeowner I would like to know how council can justify a $25,000 study to examine industrial zoning laws to facilitate a tax EXPEMPT buyer. I propose adding a line item in the next budget - tuition reimbursement for an Eco 101 class. That would be money well spent.

  15. Doug Brown said on 24 May 2013 at 10:30 am:
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    It’s “antiquated” because the head of the city’s economic development department has been too busy ignoring it and developing the city via her own agenda. How long has she been on the job ? How long has she been complaining about it or ignoring it? Was she hired because she opposed it or was she hired because she was suppose to make it work?

    Once again the city’s first step has determined its final step. Unfortunately, Steve Thomas is probably right given the leadership in the city is driven by a fear of lawsuits, in Manassas the plaintiff takes precedent over the voter.

  16. zuzu said on 27 May 2013 at 11:43 pm:
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    And a good hard look around the town reflects what Doug Brown said - the plaintiff takes precedent over the voter. Time for me to get out of Manassas.

  17. Doug Brown said on 28 May 2013 at 9:32 am:
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    why move? why not sue?

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