"Freedom of religion is guaranteed by our constitution," said Saadi Nasim.
I don't really understand how living in an Islamic center that has collapsing ceilings and raw sewage is a part of the Islamic religion. Even the most far out Hadiths and Fatwas (and there are some really far out ones) don't cover this.
But political correctness usually trumps the law when it comes to mosques.
Masjid Noor has "serious structural integrity problems and potentially dangerous conditions" that were revealed during a late-December inspection by fire officials, said city prosecutor Trisha Aljoe.
"Floors and ceilings are collapsing in there, and extensive work is being done that needs a structural engineer."
Aljoe added that raw sewage was present outside, along with mattresses and other evidence that people may be living in the structure.
The move to force the mosque out of the building has drawn criticism from at least one Bay Area Islamic leader who claims religious freedoms are being imperiled.
"I recently heard that the city of Richmond might be having talks to shut down the Islamic Center," said Saadi Nasim, a community outreach coordinator at Al Sabeel mosque in San Francisco, in a Tuesday email to the City Council and Mayor Gayle McLaughlin. "First and foremost, freedom of religion is guaranteed by our constitution. I am confused how and why a religious (center) could be shut down."
Freedom of Religion means that if Islam believed that its worshipers had to pray in mosques with collapsing ceilings and raw sewage, they might have a case. But even Islam doesn't require that.
Council members Nat Bates and Corky Boozé have expressed concern with the way the city has handled the situation.
"Being punitive toward a religious group without just cause is asking for nothing but problems with perhaps national negative publicity," Bates said in an email this week to his council colleagues, adding that he is not abreast of all the facts of the case. "This mosque has been in operation for years without controversy, and there better be some strong reasons in suggesting the city shut them down."
Collapsing ceilings. Raw sewage.
Boozé, who has been the subject of numerous investigations by city Code Enforcement officials over his own allegedly substandard properties, said the matter was evidence that the Code Enforcement Department and Aljoe are "out of control."
"I visited the building this week, and to say it's dangerous is a bunch of hogwash," Boozé said. "The roof was leaking, there is some rot on the floors, but that is a huge building and the part they pray in has no problems."
The honorable city council member apparently doesn't understand how buildings work, despite owning a few. If the ceiling collapses on the top floor, the effect is going to trickle down to you even if you're on a lower floor.
The Islamic center should not have bought a huge building if it doesn't want to maintain it. But despite its huge size, there's no room for women.
Alicia A. - I rarely give one star. The reason for this masjid getting only one star is because this masjid.. as I found out upon asking only serves men. Why you may be wondering? According to the individuals I talked to because their isn't enough space and no separate wudu area for the women.
This is a violation of the women's right to attend the masjid for prayer- thus earning this masjid- one star. I am severely disappointed in this masjid- as I was looking forward to attending Jummah and having another masjid I could access within a 10 minute drive of my house.
On the bright side, Alicia avoided all the raw sewage.