From USA Today
Rev. Stacy Walker-Frontjes, of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in DeKalb, Ill., talks with Mohammed Labadi as she tours the house that serves as the group’s mosque.
By Brett T. Roseman, for USA TODAY
CHICAGO – Mohammed Labadi has a lot at stake when the DeKalb City Council votes Tuesday on a request from the Islamic Society of Northern Illinois University to build a two-story mosque.
Labadi, a businessman and Islamic Society board member, wants a bigger mosque to replace the small house where local Muslims now worship. He also hopes for affirmation that his neighbors and city officials have no fear of the Muslim community.
“Don’t look at me just as a Muslim, look at me as an American,” Labadi says. It’s time, he says, “to take the unfortunate stereotypes about Muslims out of the picture.” The zoning commission unanimously approved the plan.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which were carried out by hijackers from Arab countries, animosity toward Muslims sometimes has taken the form of opposition to construction of mosques and other Islamic facilities. National debate erupted over plans for a community center that became known as the “Ground Zero mosque” in Lower Manhattan.