Brookfield community members fill church to discuss proposed mosque

BROOKFIELD -- Debate is heating up regarding plans for a proposed mosque in Brookfield. The Islamic Society of Milwaukee held an informational session open to the public to answer questions about the proposed mosque and about Islam Monday evening, April 23rd. Some are concerned about the proposed location of the mosque, and others are concerned about the type of worship that would be practiced there.

Many of those at Monday night's meeting were supporters of the proposed mosque, but there were also a few, vocal members of the Brookfield community saying - not in my backyard. "The sad part is that we do have to look at your religion as having the extremists. I like truth, and I don't believe the truth is actually evident," one audience member said. "You talked about the Bible and the Torah and how much you respect that. It says throughout the Koran that those texts are corrupt," another audience member said.

Instead of focusing on congregation size, parking and traffic -- issues the city of Brookfield can consider at upcoming planning meetings, members of the audience at Monday night's meeting took issue with Islam itself.

Members of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee say they're happy to educate people, and say there's nothing that can be said if people cling to fear of the Islam faith. "Once they see that we are really part and parcel of the community, we believe they will feel comfortable with us. This is not any different than any other religious community. Those who are in opposition are a very small vocal minority," Othman Atta with the Islamic Society of Milwaukee said.

Dr. Mushir Hassan and the Islamic Society of Milwaukee own land on W. Pheasant Drive off of Calhoun Road in Brookfield. They want to build a mosque on that land, between a storage facility and an electrical supply warehouse, across from some railroad tracks. However, Hassan and the Islamic Society are anticipating some resistance to their plan.

"We've desired to have a place of worship in Waukesha County for at least 10 years. I think we have a culture right now in this country where it's okay to bash certain groups with impunity and Muslims are one of those groups," Hassan said.

There was a contentious debate regarding a Sheboygan mosque a little less than two years ago, and a high-profile national debate surrounding a proposed mosque near Ground Zero in New York. Both projects were eventually approved.

Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto says the city will be examining a building, not a religion, as it decides whether to approve the project. "We're not looking at all these other issues people want to bring up," Ponto said.

One of the concerns the city has already raised is the traffic worshippers could bring to the nearby busy intersections off of Calhoun Road. "We significantly downsized our building to have a worship size of 114, and with doing that, the traffic numbers would not be any worse than it would be during rush hour," Hassan said.

Still, it may not be enough to satisfy some in the community who are anti-Islam. According to FOX6's media partners at the Brookfield Patch, one man petitioned aldermen via email to block the project, writing: "A mosque is a Trojan horse in a community. Muslims have not come to integrate, but to dominate."

A May 2nd open house will be held at the Brookfield Public Safety Building municipal courtroom (2100 N. Calhoun Road). A formal public hearing on the project is planned for May 7th, during the Brookfield Common Council's Plan Commission meeting at Brookfield's City Hall (2000 N. Calhoun Road).

Brookfield officials say concerns about the religion of Islam cannot be considered at the two official city meetings on May 2nd and 7th.

CLICK HERE for more information on the project via the Brookfield Patch's website.