The cloud of Islamophobia hovering over our country has reached new heights. The recent construction of a new mosque project in Palos Park is being met with negativity and resentment.
According to the Chicago Tribune, “An anonymous flier circulated in mailboxes and online this month decried plans to open a mosque and community center at the site of a former church in this southwest suburb, roughly a mile from the home of 72-year-old Omar Najib, who intends to pray there. The Muslim American Society bought the property at 12300 S. 80th Ave. in December 2015 and plans to do minor maintenance at the site, with no opening day scheduled yet. The leaflet titled ‘Save Palos’ accused the house of worship of threatening to erode housing values and congest traffic.”
This incident left Mr. Najib very disturbed and he categorizes it as bigotry. Being a resident of the area for 35 years, it was heart wrenching for him that he has to cross several hurdles just so that a place of worship can be established.
However, on the positive side, Mr. Najib said “he knows the message on the flier doesn’t reflect the sentiments of most of his Palos Park neighbors or the village officials who represent them.” After the incident, Mayor John Mahoney immediately condemned the anonymous leaflet as cowardly. “Palos Park’s motto is a ‘pastoral setting, rural splendor,'” Mayor Mahoney said in a phone interview with the Chicago Tribune.
Although the incident has left the Muslims of Palos Park disappointed and dampened, “there’s no reason to believe the mosque won’t open here as planned,” Mr. Najib said.