The Islamic Center for Human Excellence, a branch of the Nation of Islam based in Little Rock, Arkansas, has received permission from a local planning commission, report KLRT-TV and the Arkansas Times, to build an Islamic community to include a mosque, a school, 22 homes, and the adhan call-to-prayer broadcast by loudspeaker five times a day. It appears the community will be open only to Muslims. Further, Imam Aquil Hamidullah explains, the goal is "to have a clean community," which he describes as one "free of alcohol, drugs, and free of gangs."
The Islamic Center for Human Excellence in Little Rock, Arkansas.
There are many steps between a planning commission and actually building, plus opposition is assured. The planning commission meeting was packed. For example, Tim Lawson, a Little Rock resident, expressed his opposition "to any type of segregation, and I believe this is what's going to happen [at the Islamic Center for Human Excellence]."
Comments: (1) Allowing the development of such restricted, isolated, supremacist, Islamist enclaves would be an all-around disaster. (2) There exist already some 10-20 Muslim-only enclaves in the United States, the villages run by Muslim of the Americas, a group affiliated with the Pakistani group Jamaat ul-Fuqra. (August 27, 2004)
Oct. 6, 2004 update: Despite strong opposition, the City Board of Directors approved the Islamic Center for Human Excellence' plans for an Islamic community. According to KLRT-TV, the center say the community is open to non-Muslims, whom they encourage to join the experiment. Neighbors of the prospective community, however, are skeptical that such assurances will last. The building will begin in January 2005.
Nov. 29, 2004 update: The the Sonali Gardens project is a parallel development in London, England. It consists of 40 new homes built as part of a joint effort by the Tower Hamlets council and Circle 33 housing association and scheduled to open in summer 2005. According to the Evening Standard, the Muslim-only policy on state-subsidized property is justified by the special services such as halal meals, Bengali-speaking caregivers, and Islamic praying facilities Showing just how degraded the situation is in the United Kingdom, the Conservatives objected to this project on the grounds that the British National Party would seize on it in a bid for votes.
Mar. 4, 2005 update: From Dudley, England comes word of an exclusively Muslim "village," called the Pride of Dudley, in the town center. It will receive £150,000 funding from taxpayers, or about 1 percent of the total £15 million cost, from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, as awarded by the Dudley Community Partnership. This money comes despite the fact that Dudley's Muslim Association had promised that the project, which includes a large mosque, sports halls, fitness room, health clinic and computer center, would be exclusively funded by Muslims. Mar. 9, 2005 update: A letter from the head of the Dudley Community Partnership clarifies that none of the £150,000 will be used to build a mosque.
Mar. 25, 2005 update: The idea of segregated Muslim housing is taking place outside the West too. IslamOnLine.net reports today on a first Islamic housing compound being planned for Nigeria, on the Lekki beach in Lagos. The project will include housing, a shopping mall, mosque, Arab and Islamic-language schools, foreign language schools, a multi-purpose lounge, sporting facilities and parks. It is expected to be completed within two years. Interesting to note is that, according to the reporter, "The cost of the Islamic compound is far cheaper than any other housing facilities in the same area," suggesting a subsidy, presumably from the Saudi government. (Note also the Arabic language instruction.)
July 18, 2005 update: An undated article on the Muslim Link website tells the story of the Gwynnoaks Muslim Residential Development effort in Baltimore, where 85 to 100 families in an eight-block radius are all Muslim. It was initiated by Yahya Cason, at that time an engineer with a large company, looking for a place to raise his family. Out of his efforts now exists a group of property developers, The Development Group, that claims twenty to thirty employees. Another article, on the American Planning Association website, traces Gwynnoaks to 9/11 and the need American Muslims felt both to "protect themselves from the racist backlash that occurred in the wake of the attacks and to reach out to educate the public on the moral and social framework that the vast majority of American Muslims abide by." In this case, at least, there seems to be no legal restrictions against non-Muslims, nor any taxpayer monies involved. Aug. 6, 2005 update: But there might be other problems at Gwynnoaks, if Mahmud Faruq Brent (a.k.a. Mahmud Al Mutazzim), arrested on Aug. 4 for providing material support to the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist organization, is from there. The Associated Press writes he's from "Gwynn Oak, Md." The Washington Post indicates he hails from "Gwynn Oak Avenue in northwest Baltimore." Jan. 2, 2014 update: For a report on the nearly-completed Gwynn Oak Islamic Community Masjid, see an update by Hena Zuberi in Muslim Link, "Build It, Because They've Already Come." The article quotes Mercedes Eugene describing Maine Avenue, "otherwise known as Islamic Way": "It's not completely Islamic, but there is a concentration of Muslims on this street." Zuberi concludes by noting that "the Gwynn Oak Islamic Community is establishing Islam within the borders of the Gwynn Oaks area of Baltimore City, in accordance to the Quran and Sunnah."
The Gwynn Oak Islamic Community Masjid, Baltimore's first purpose-build mosque.
June 26, 2011 update: As-Sabiqun replies to this blog today with its wonted politeness and good will: "Stupidity of Nazi-Zionists & Decline of the American Empire."
Jamaal Uddin puts up a Shari'a sticker in the East London borough of Waltham Forest.
Jamaal Uddin puts up a Shari'a sticker in the East London borough of Waltham Forest.
Reaction was immediate and strong. Scotland Yard is working to identify those responsible for putting the posters up while local authorities are taking themdown. For example, Chris Robbins of Waltham Forest Council said: 'As soon as we heard about these posters we worked over the weekend to take them all down. Since then we have been going through our CCTV images and working with the police to try to identify the culprits. Our policy is to use the full extent of our powers to prosecute any offenders. People should not get the wrong idea about our borough because a handful of small-minded idiots, who do not live here, decide to deface our streets with ridiculous posters."
Jan. 12, 2012 update: Plans have been unveiled to open Firdaus Center in Hamburg, Germany, a shopping area with only Muslim merchants and hoping to attract "true believers" as customers. It has met with resistance from the CDU party.
Jan. 9, 2013 update: Acompany called Qartaba Homes, headed by Khurram Jawaid, plans to build a Muslim enclave with 180 lots in Riverstone, a northwestern suburb of Sydney, Australia. It will feature interest-free mortgages and what it calls "100 per cent Halal housing." Says Jawaid: "Our philosophy is interest-free, pay as you own. You don't have to go to a bank or a financial institution."
A computer-generated portion of the proposed Qartaba Homes development outside of Sydney, Australia.
While Qartaba states that all religious backgrounds are welcome, the state MP for Hawkesbury Ray Williams sees its project as divisive. "I can only imagine the repercussions if a developer were to advertise a new Judeo-Christian housing estate; they would be hung, drawn and quartered. I hardly think the advertisement for a '100 per cent halal' Muslim housing community is inclusive; it's very divisive and I'm sure it will be viewed that way by the majority of fair-minded Australians."
Blacktown councillor Alan Pendleton said the community was concerned it could turn into an enclave: "There's great concern about ... what they consider could be an enclave. (There's a belief) you have to be a Muslim, otherwise they won't sell you a site." Blacktown Council is investigating the deal and Mayor Len Robinson notes that pre-lodgment plans have been submitted. June 7, 2014 update: A check at the Qartaba Homes website finds smaller projects also underway in Victoria and Queensland.
Jan. 16, 2013 update: Vigilantes calling themselves the "Muslim Patrol" are instructing residents of East London to follow the laws of what they have defined as a "Muslim area," even as they vandalize public property. The Commentator explains:
So far, the group has posted two videos to its new YouTube account which was set up in December 2012. The first video shows the destruction of advertising and vandalising of bus shelters, both displaying images of H&M push-up bras. The second video sees the 'vigilantes' approaching and harrassing members of the public for either consuming alcohol, dressing 'inappropriately', or being inebriated near a mosque. ...
In the videos, the 'Muslim Patrol' is heard to say, "Alcohol banned. This is a Muslim area. Muslims patrol the area." One young woman, when confronted by the patrol, states, "I am appalled, this is Great Britain", to which the authors of the video are heard to remark, "We don't care. It's not so Great Britain".
May 18, 2013 update: A region of the Dutch capital, The Hague, is turning into a Muslim enclave where the Shari'a is increasingly applied, according to a report in the newspaper Trouw. Schilderswijk, with about 5,000 inhabitants, is sometimes called "The Sharia Triangle"; it has seen the development of what some term a "small caliphate" and a "mini-Shari'a." It's a place where smoking publicly or consuming alcohol and pork are no longer possible. Women must cover up. The police are increasingly unwelcome.
Feb. 3, 2014 update: Now it's the turn of a Toronto suburb, Thornhill, where the Jaffari Centre seeks, according to CityNews Toronto, to build 2 residential highrise buildings and 61 townhouses, totaling 377 living units on its 30-acre property, making this "a high-density Muslim community." Neighbors in the predominantly Jewish neighborhood who oppose the plan started a petition and a meeting will take place on Feb. 4 to hash through the issues. Feb. 5, 2014 update: Imam Syed Mohammed Rizvi, the initiator of the Muslim enclave, and his East End Madrassah were probed for hate crimes in 2012. Carolyn Turgeon of the National Post explains that he
was one of the key figures in an Islamic school that used teaching materials that disparaged Jews and encouraged boys to keep fit for jihad. ... although charges were not laid, a York Region police report said a review of 30 school syllabus books found portions that "challenged some of Canada's core values" and "suggested intolerance," even if they were not criminal.
Aug. 25, 2015 update: Ahmadiyya Abode of Peace Inc. operates "social housing" (i.e., it receives taxpayer subsidies) at 3001 Finch Avenue West, Toronto, that rejects non-Ahmadi Muslims who seek to live there. Oddly, two cases came to light just today.
(1) Austin Lewis, 21, who is paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, received a letter from AAP that stated: "The vision of this community includes providing housing for households in which at least one person is a member of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at. This means if none of the individuals of your household are a member ... you will be removed from the waiting list."
Although Ontario law does not allow denial of accommodations on the basis of religion, the city of Toronto permits restricting residence to specific ethnic or religious groups. John Gosgnach, communications manager for the City of Toronto, explains:
Ahmadiyya has received approval under Council authority to enter into an Agreement to establish a Mandate to restrict tenancy to 'members of the Muslim Jama'at' in accordance with the requirements approved by City Council in November 2002. The Agreement to Establish a Mandate has been executed by both parties and has a five year term with an effective date of Jan 1, 2015. The City's mandate policy allows social housing providers to restrict their housing to individuals belonging to an identifiable ethnic or religious group if specific conditions are met. The housing provider must provide the City with a legal opinion that they are meeting the requirements of Section 18 of the Ontario Human Rights Code by providing services and facilities to support the members of the identifiable ethnic or religious group.
Gosgnach said the same provision allows other groups to do the same "including seniors, artists, aboriginal, homeless/hard-to-house, individuals with AIDS and ethnic and religious groups including Christian and individuals of Lithuanian, Macedonian, Greek, Chinese, Hungarian and German origin."
As for Lewis, he "wouldn't mind a bit" living in a building that was predominantly occupied by Muslims, or anyone else. "People are people, they do what they do: they can pray to a tree, I don't care, it doesn't impact me."
(2) Rose Raill received a letter explaining she would not be eligible to live at 3001 Finch Avenue West because the social housing provider requires tenants to be a member of a specific faith: "If none of the individuals in your household are a member of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at ... you will be removed from the waiting list." This is legal because social housing providers may restrict their units to residents of a specific ethnic or religious affiliation if the Ontario Human Rights Code is followed.
Toronto Community Housing Corporation board member Coun. Joe Cressy explains: "Part of fairness and equity in our housing unit is having a diverse range of housing options to service everybody. If you're a senior, a person of a different background, whether you're Chinese or German or Hungarian or a Christian or Muslim, we should have options that service you."
Karim Ahman Tahir, property manager of 3001 Finch Avenue West justifies the policy, saying that "The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at provides extra services in this building which are of interest only to the members of Ahmadiyya. If I'm providing a service which is not of interest to you, then you don't get a benefit out of that."
Comment: Toronto has in all eight "social housing buildings" that require tenants to be of a specific ethnic or religious background. This policy can perhaps be justified for private buildings but it's an outrage for taxpayer-subsidized housing.
Feb. 24, 2016 update: The Islamic Leadership Institute of America posted information about a meeting today to discuss what appears to be a Muslim-only "Muslim senior village" in a suburban area between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore:
The Montgomery County Muslim Foundation is pleased to invite you and members of your family to participate in a discussion on how to form the first Senior Village in our community. Pazit Aviv, the Village Coordinator with Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services Aging and Disability Services, will be presenting the concept and answering questions on how to start your own Village. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Senior Villages, They are volunteer based networks designed to improve the quality of life of their members by helping them get needed services, maintain their independence, and age in place. In Montgomery County there are already 17 senior villages. The village movement is gaining popularity and expanding rapidly. Please look at forwarded MyMCMedia video for additional information.
Nov. 15, 2016 update: Intending to help Muslims avoid paying interest, developer Nabil Warda sent an e-mail to members of a suburban Montreal mosque in Brossard, the Islamic Community Centre of South Shore, to gauge interest in an 80-unit prefabricated Muslim housing project. After Radio-Canada reported this news, the three main parties in the province's National Assembly denounced the plan and members unanimously adopted a motion that "no real-estate development can be based on religious or ethnic segregation."
Warda replied that non-Muslims are welcome so long as they abide by Muslim values. "You don't drive drunk on the street. If you want to drink alcohol, you drink it in your house. There must be some modesty in the way you dress. We don't want women living there going half-naked down the streets. We don't like that. If they want to do that, let them go and live in downtown Montreal."
Interestingly, the imam of the Brossard mosque, Foudil Selmoune, opposes the project: "We are here in Canada. We came of our own will. Our intention was not to come to isolate ourselves from society or from the community." He suggested that Warda help Muslims buy existing homes rather than create a Muslim neighborhood.