Mosque Controversies Erupt Across Nation. No major problems in Idaho.

"But we're being cautious."


Politicians have been fumbling a political football in an attempt to answer the burning question: Is America anti-Muslim?

Protests have sprung up coast to coast in the shadow of a perceived fear of Islam. In the streets of New York, angry relatives of 9/11 victims clash with supporters of a planned mosque/cultural center near Ground Zero. Outside of Nashville, Tenn., vandalism and arson mar the construction site of a future mosque in Murfreesboro.

President Barack Obama extolled the first amendment as protection for the controversial Manhattan project but backpedaled on full-out support of the effort. And the lower Manhattan Muslim leader, Imam Feisal-Abdul Rauf has come under fire by those who confuse radical, fundamentalism with the peaceful Islam that is practiced by millions.

Anti-Muslim sentiment in communities across America has sprung up to oppose new mosques in Tennessee, Wisconsin, Ohio, California and Florida.

Turn on cable news at any hour of the day, and you'll hear from both sides of the political spectrum about the proposed mosque/cultural center on Park Place in New York City, two blocks from Ground Zero. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Obama, and the Imam have all spoken at length about the project.

Bloomberg acknowledged the fact that for some families of Sept. 11, 2001, victims, the project sits too close to what for them is "hallowed ground."

"There's already another mosque down there within four blocks of the World Trade Center," said Bloomberg on The Daily Show. "There's porno places. There's fast-food places. It's a vibrant community. It's New York."

How will Boise respond?

In a city of immigrants from all over Europe and the Middle East, Boise is home to mosques for Turks, Bosnians and even one for Shia Muslims exclusively. The non-specific Islamic Center of Boise is by far the largest, filled by waves of refugees transplanted to the Treasure Valley by the U.S. State Department and several agencies.

During the month of Ramadan, the ICB rents extra space in a separate building to accommodate its growing membership. The ICB has secured a piece of land on which to build a new masjid, or meeting place for prayer. Now they just have to raise the money.

Is Boise too close to Ground Zero?

"We have had windows broken, and three years ago there were swastikas, actual swastika stickers from a local anti-everything group," said Marissa [who asked not to use her last name], administrator of the facility.

Marissa said the ICB serves Muslims from more than three dozen countries. While they haven't had any vandalism on this issue, she said they have been targeted in the past.

"As an individual, I've had pretty blatant resentment," said Marissa.

With an important Islamic holiday, Eid ul-Fitr, falling on Friday, Sept. 10, this year, Marissa said the center isn't taking any chances. The celebration marks the traditional end of Ramadan with a series of feasts following a nearly month-long fast.

"There's fear that people will misconstrue the festivities as a celebration of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"We're very concerned about security. We're being cautious," she said.