“Be a shame if you did anything to screw it up.”
Councilwoman Bess Rich Calls for Investigation
City councilwoman Bess Rich says leading up to a Mobile Planning Commission meeting on April 17th, her freedom of speech was compromised.
At that meeting, plans were approved for an Islamic Mosque to expand. The Islamic Center is located on East Drive in Mobile.
Today, she read a 7 page document before the council detailing what happened and asked for an investigation. Rich says prior to the April 17th meeting, she was told by city council attorney Jim Rossler that a complaint had been filed to the Justice department on behalf of the Islamic Center concerning a possible discrimination of rights violation*.
She says she was also warned not to object to the Planning Commission application submitted by the Islamic Center.
“As a result of this legal advice and my great fear of a lawsuit, I reluctantly did not step forward to render my opinion or thoughts regarding the proposed development,” Rich read. She went on to say during an interview after the meeting,
“I was told that if I address the issue I would be personally held responsible and could be sued by the Justice department and so I was warned not to address the Planning Commission on the application and to make no objects.”
Oddly enough, after the planning commission voted to let the mosque go ahead, the city attorney said, “OOPS!” After “further research” he’d determined his initial advice had been wrong and that the city was, indeed, obligated to defend her. But that update was too late in coming to affect the recommendation for approval.
*More on the alleged discrimination of rights violation complaint:
…City Councilwoman Bess Rich, who represents the neighborhood where the Islamic Center expansion is slated, said during Tuesday’s council meeting that she was told by City Council Attorney Jim Rossler to be wary about voicing her concerns on the development during the commission’s April 17 meeting because of a threat that she could be personally sued.
Her concerns stem from an investigation that was initiated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office last year over a potential violation to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which prohibits governments from imposing a land use regulation that imposes substantial burdens on religious freedoms.
The probe stems from the City Council’s vote in May 2013 to deny the Islamic Center of Mobile’s application for an expansion project that included a new school and mosque.
The council, amid concerns about traffic issues along East Drive and parking during the project’s construction, voted unanimously against the project.
…Rich said she was approached by Rossler ahead of the April 17 meeting and was told not to say anything about the project because legal action might be forthcoming by the Justice Department. She said that Rossler told her that if she was sued, not to expect the city to defend her against the federal agency.
…Rossler confirmed that the Department of Justice informed the city that they were opening an investigation. He said a formal letter about the probe into the council’s denial of the Islamic Center’s application last year was opened on Nov. 15.
…Rich said she is concerned that her civil rights as a concerned representative of the district might have been affected. She is equally concerned that other commissioners or city officials might have been approached ahead of April 17 meeting over concerns about how a federal investigation might be handled if they were opposed to the Islamic Center project.
“It’s a very serious issue to have your civil rights, which are constitutionally protected freedoms of speech, to have been thwarted,” Rich said. “That’s a very serious violation even as an individual, but more so or equal to as an elected official … that you would be personally sued (if you spoke out against the project). I did not get that (concern) corrected until way after the hearing.”
Rich requested that a hearing into an appeal of the Planning Commission’s recommendation be delayed until “an investigation is initiated on what was told to the planning staff and commissioners.” She said she wants to find out who was involved in last year’s appeal to the Justice Department and whether the federal investigation prevented a “fair and opening hearing” on April 17.
As for “discrimination”, well…I can understand parking and traffic issues completely. We have little home grown Christian churches around here and Bible studies that just outgrow the neighborhoods, and they’re a pain in the ass, God love ‘em. We’re not telling you you can’t have your church anymore. But PLEASE MOVE it where the infrastructure can HANDLE it.
Then again, those little preachers ~ most of them ~ don’t have kids like THIS particular mosque’s Imam, either.
Mosque Leader Says Discrimination a Factor
It’s a situation that has the president of a local mosque pondering his next move.
“I believe in all my heart that this is somewhat of a discrimination,” said Shafik Hammami.
The Islamic Society of Mobile has called East Drive home for over 20 years. The buildings however, are much older, and that’s why Hammami wants to rebuild.
…”Does it have anything to do with them being Muslim?” I asked [a neighbor] Montgomery. “Not really, no. Of course it’s, you know we have feelings. Terrorist that came from that particular mosque, makes you think,” she said.
And that terrorist is Omar Hammami, who is Shafik Hammami’s son. He is on the America’s Most Wanted list for supporting the terrorist organization Al Shabaab and recruiting terrorist for the organization.
“I don’t blame the American people for having the fear, but I do blame people who do not pursue the truth. The truth is we are a peaceful religion, and we have nothing to do with the terror acts going on all over the world,” said Hammami.
Soooo, schmaybe it’s NOT JUST the traffic that’s giving the neighbors fits and starts, eh? And the son’s name might not ring the proverbial bell, but if I tell you he’s the chirpy little bearded f*cker who was the mouthpiece for Al Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab in Somalia, who has since been reportedly whacked by those same good-natured fellas, would that ring a bell?
As for his religion of peace loving dad, his comments on his murderous son’s death were:
…”Of course I hope not, I hope it’s not true,” Shafik Hammami told ABC News in a telephone interview from his Alabama home. “Our lives have been on a roller coaster for a long time, and we’ve been there before… we just hope that it’s not true this time.”
If the reports are accurate, however, Shafik said his son died “fighting for his principles.”
“He did what he wanted to do and he fulfilled his principles,” Shafik said. “If he indeed died, he died fighting for his principles, whatever they are.“
TOTAL REPUDIATION of the violence inherent in Islamic teachings THERE, wouldn’t you say?
And trust the Obama DOJ to come down on the side you’d figure they would.