A mosque whose imam has been charged with sending money to the Pakistani Taliban has become the target of a small group of protesters seeking to shut it down.
Twenty mostly senior citizens supporting the Tea Party of Fort Lauderdale as well as groups that call themselves Americans Against Hate, Church of All Nations and Citizens of Margate gathered Tuesday morning in front of Masjid Jamaat Al-Mumineen mosque.
During a press conference to preview a demonstration that evening, speakers demanded that the congregation once led by Imam Izhar Khan be investigated.
When Khan and five others were arrested in the alleged plot last month, John V. Gillies, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Miami office said, “I remind everyone that the Muslim and Arab-American members of our community should never be judged by the illegal activities of a few.”
Tuesday’s speakers were not swayed. “The feds are acting politically correct,” said Joe Kaufman, chairman of Coral Springs-based Americans Against Hate.
Six Margate police officers, some perched in an observation tower that had been raised about the trees, watched the demonstrators and made sure they didn’t get hit by passing traffic on Holiday Springs Boulevard.
City Commissioner Lesa Peerman, who also came to watch, confirmed what a police spokesman said: the mosque has enjoyed a peaceful co-existence with the city for many years. “I don’t believe in holding an organization responsible for the actions of one individual,” Peerman said.
As a battered black pickup drove by flying a massive American flag from its tailgate, Peerman pointed out that the imam has been charged but not yet tried. “Thank God we live in a country where people can protest peacefully, people are innocent until proven guilty and we have freedom of religion,” Peerman said.