A proposal to build a mosque on a 14-acre plot of land in Prince William County was a major debate among residents in Northern Virginia.
Prince William County, Virginia residents started the meeting to discuss this proposal at 7 pm Tuesday June 27, and it went on until the wee hours of Wednesday morning. On one side of the argument, some residents argued the construction of the mosque would disrupt their community’s way of life. They also made cases for their arguments such as the mosque would bring unwanted traffic to their otherwise clear roads. It was argued the mosque would go against the zoning regulations meant to protect the territorial dominion. Others said by accessing a county sewer line it would violate county policy.
The other side of the argument raised points like their Muslim neighbors wanted and needed a place to pray in their area of residence. They also said the opposition might arise out of not just baseless arguments about land use but also biases towards Islam. About a 150 to 200 Muslims from the area had to rent hotel space in Manassas to conduct their Friday prayers, religious schooling and interfaith meetings among other events.
On the surface, many might view this as a normal push and pull relationship between the town and mosque. Views of this being a case of Islamophobia are beginning to creep up. Since the first All Dulles Area Muslim Society’s request for the go ahead to start construction of the mosque, at least two requests for the construction of non-Muslim churches have been approved. The churches were also allowed to connect to the Prince William County sewer.
All Dulles Area Muslim Society has provided instances from all over the country where they say Muslim communities have faced more stringent zoning restrictions when requesting for permits to build mosques than other religious factions’ places of worship. They claim these restrictions are being put in place to hold them to an unattainable standard by Americans who fear or don’t like Muslims. The spokespeople of those who oppose the Nokesville Mosque project claim they have no problem with Muslims. They say their main concern is only the integrity of their community and with maintaining their acquired lifestyle.
The All Dulles Area Muslim Society, also known as the ADAMS Center, has been trying for almost three years to get a special use permit to build the mosque on land zoned for agriculture in Nokesville. The ADAMS Center operates a well-known mosque in Sterling, Virginia. The Nokesville facility, first proposed in 2014, will be more than 22,000 square feet and will have the capacity to accommodate 500 people in its prayer hall.
The Prince William County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in early hours of Wednesday, June 28 to approve construction of the mosque by the All Dulles Area Muslims Society.