WASHINGTON — A sheriff’s deputy halted a community meeting on a proposed mosque in Spotsylvania County after the discussion got heated.
The Free Lance-Star reports that Tuesday’s meeting erupted into shouting matches during a presentation by Samer Shalaby, a trustee of the Islamic Center of Fredericksburg.
The newspaper says Shalaby was interrupted by a man who made anti-Muslim comments. “I will do everything in my power to make sure this does not happen because you are terrorists,” the man said. “Every one of you are terrorists.”
Some in the crowd clapped while others expressed disagreement.
One mosque member pleaded with the audience to stop arguing, saying “there’s enough fighting in the world,” adding, “we’re all Americans first.”
The meeting began with a moment of silence for the victims of Friday’s terrorist attack in Paris, but Sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Pearce said the meeting eventually began deteriorating, and police believed it was no longer productive.
“I understand the fear,” said Munira Salim Abdalla, who recorded a video of a shouting match. “All of us have fear, including the Muslims,” she tells WUSA9.
The Islamic Center plans to build an 8,000-square-foot mosque that would replace its existing facility.
Shalaby told a packed crowd at the Chancellor Community Center, which has a capacity of 171, that the Islamic Center has been in the Fredericksburg area for nearly three decades.
Several people in the audience tried to bring up more practical questions such as the traffic the project would generate.
Shalaby tells WUSA9 parents are now afraid to send their children to Sunday school at the center because of the threats made at the meeting.