Last night, the Plymouth Planning Commission held an open meeting to discuss a proposed mosque in the city. The meeting was supposed to be about land use and potential civil engineering questions, but instead opened the door for several citizens to express their anti-Islamic prejudices.
Connie Sambor told the planning commission that there already is a community center in Plymouth, and it doesn't need another. Then things got weird:
"How soon we forget the horrors of 9/11 and subsequent reminders of the Shoe Bomber, Underwear Bomber, the Times Square bomber, the Fort Hood massacre," Sambor said.
"This," she went on, "is an ideology that wants to destroy--" before she was cut off by a commissioner, who tried to remind her that the meeting was not meant for political statements.
Sambor tried to make one last point, which in theory is a reference to land use: "They can find a more appropriate place than downtown Plymouth for this," she said.
Several comissioners reported they had received anti-Islamic e-mails about the mosque, according to MPR.
Speaking in favor of the center was Mateen Ali, who said he was a third-generation resident of Plymouth.
"Plymouth is home to me, I don't know any other place," Ali said, saying he loves the city for its bike trails and farmer's markets. "One thing that's really missing is for our kids, for me, as a family, to go a place where we can hang out and socialize."
It sounds like not everyone wants to "hang out." Jeff Baumann, of Coon Rapids, said he was raised in Saudi Arabia and is "very, very informed about Islam." Baumann said he'd fought against Shariah mortgages and attended a board meeting of TiZA, the Islamic charter school.
As Baumann began to read from a book about Islam, he was interrupted, and again Commission Chairman Jim Davis tried to interject with the purpose of the meeting.
"Land use, aiding the enemy, is treason," Baumann said.
"These are not my enemies, sir," Davis said.
Baumann continued, and eventually Davis had his microphone cut, with several others in attendance yelling at Baumann, "Sit down!"
Aside from Baumann, another scene-stealer was Fawaz Mohiuddin, a skinny teenager wearing a Harvard sweatshirt who grew up in the area. Mohiuddin said he didn't want to "talk about small logsitics."
"The people here, the adults -- they talked about the kids a lot -- but the adults here, they're doctors, they're engineers, they're chemists," Mohiuddin said. "They're people who contribute to the city of Plymouth. These are people who are undoubtedly helping the city, they're not burdens on the city.
"Basically," Mohiuddin said, "when you're saying no to this mosque, when you say no to this building, you're saying no to all these people who want to come in and help make Plymouth a better place."
The community center will next be discussed at the Plymouth City Council meeting on August 23, where it will face an up or down vote for approval.