Opinions on the construction of a mosque in Brookfield were mixed at a public information session Wednesday, but two-thirds of those who submitted written comments supported the project, city officials say.
A steady flow of people came to view charts and other information, or talk to city and Islamic Society of Milwaukee officials in the courtroom at the city's Public Safety Building. There was no presentation given.
More than 100 people were estimated to have stopped in during the three-hour session, with 31 leaving written comments. Of those 31, 21 supported the project, with 10 opposing it or raising questions and concerns, said Tim Casey, city economic development coordinator.
Dawn Balcom, of Elm Grove, told Patch she was "all for it," having met Muslims during her medical mission trips to Palestine.
"They're kind, they're generous, they're quiet people," she said. "It's just a few who give it a bad rap."
Bascom said Muslims should have sufficient worship space like other religions.
"The only mosque they have is downtown (Milwaukee). I think that's terrible," she said.
Brookfield is 'wrong place' for mosque
Ted Gibbs of Brookfield disagreed, telling Patch the proposed second mosque on Pheasant Drive in Brookfield was "the wrong place."
"You have to look at 20, 25 years out and the impact, and I don't think the city is doing that," he said.
"I think it (the mosque) will be a magnet for other Muslims to either live in Brookfield or go to that mosque instead of (the downtown Milwaukee one)," Gibbs said. "And that will exacerbate the traffic. How will they enforce the (maximum allowable) traffic? They can't stop them and arrest them for turning into church."
Irwin Johnson, of Elm Grove, said he was "very definitely" in favor of the project, saying "God no," he was not worried about the mosque being tied to terrorism.
"Are we worried about the Methodists?" Johnson asked. "Are we worried about the Bahai? Peaceful people of all religions — that's what this country is all about."
Yet another resident — a woman who did not want to be named — said Muslims have long been a part of Brookfield, worship here and should be able to have a building of their own, rather than worship in a room at local hospitals as they have done for a decade.
But other residents who did not want to be publicly identified said they did not believe Islam is a peaceful religion and that they were concerned about sharia law — Islamic principles and guides — being imposed on non-Muslims.
One Brookfield man said he believed there would be a "holy war" between Christians and Muslims in 50 years as the numbers of Muslims grow.
Another Brookfield man said the properties on which mosques are built are considered sovereign to Islam, not U.S. government law.
Mayor Steve Ponto told Patch the city legally can not consider religious issues in deciding whether or not to approve the facility.
"They agreed to reduce the size of the mosque by 45 percent, so almost half," he said. "Their services are over by 1:30 p.m. Friday, which makes it workable in terms of the traffic concern."
If the city deems the need for a right-turn lane on Pleasant Drive at Calhoun Road, the Islamic Society would be responsible for paying for it, Ponto said.
"I think things are in good shape," the mayor said. "All of the things have to be documented."
The Plan Commission will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Monday to hear comments from residents before debating and possibly voting on the mosque request. The Common Council could consider it at its May 15 meeting.
- For more information on the mosque, see Patch's previous stories.