Mosque Removed as Polling Site #HummusHaters
In the wake of the horrific Orlando shootings at a gay nightclub perpetrated by a supposed ISIS sympathizer, Florida is struggling with reaffirming ties with their Muslim community. Tensions arose when Susan Bucher, a Congresswoman in Boca Raton decided to remove a Mosque as a polling place for the upcoming presidential election. As a result CAIR and Muslim American advocates across the country have called for legal reparations if the Mosque is not reinstated as a polling site this coming November.
BY: Andrew Hansen/Contributing Writer
Islamophobia Strikes Again!
This week, a Mosque in Boca Raton, Florida was removed as a polling location for the upcoming presidential election this coming November. The Palm Beach County election supervisor, Susan Bucher (D-FL), reportedly made the decision to switch the polling place out of the mosque, after receiving more than 50 phone calls complaining about voting in a mosque.
The Florida Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) responded directly to Bucher asking that she immediately reinstate the mosque as a polling location, hinting that legal action will be pursued should she not comply.
“The supervisor of elections is evidently targeted by an organized lobbying campaign spreading fear and Islamophobia,” CAIR spokeswoman Laila Abdelaziz said in a statement. “Her discretion to designate or remove polling sites must never be based on religious, racial or ethnic bias. This apparent unconstitutional religious bias may need to be corrected by our courts.”
So What’s Really Going On Here?
President Bassem Alhalabi of the Boca Raton mosque is no stranger to the spotlight. Alhalabi claims that moving the polling from the mosque is outright discrimination, and should be politically treated as such.
“This is not democratic,” Alhalabi told the Sun-Sentinel. “If Muslims are good to vote in a church and a synagogue, then Christian and Jews are also good to vote in an Islamic center.”
This is not the first time Alhalabi has found himself on the other side of a discrimination scandal. Alhalabi, besides being President of the mosque, is also a professor of computer science and engineering at Florida Atlantic University, where he was accused of having terrorist ties by a group of racist students in 2011. Thankfully, the university officially supported Alhalabi, issuing a statement regarding Alhalabi’s terrorist ties as nothing more than malicious rumors and Islam-bashing. Now, by having the government itself remove the Mosque as a polling place, Alhalabi is being forced to fight discrimination on an entirely new level.
Separation of Church and State… Or Not
If having a polling site in a mosque is causing a stir, then why are polling sites at churches or synagogues not being disputed? Well, the atheists may have our backs on this one.
According The Freedom from Religion Foundation, a foundation that raises awareness and supports policies and programs encouraging the separation of Church and State, feels that religious locations should not be used for polling sites at all. According to FFRF, local congressmen like Bucher choose polling sites based on their political aspirations. Furthermore, the religious location receives advantages like fundraising opportunities, and in some cases, perpetuating candidates’ religious ideas.
So why should some places be used as polling sites over others? By switching the polling site out of the mosque, a move that Boca Raton Muslims hoped would strengthen relations with the greater community; the local government has acted in a discriminatory manner, plain and simple. At the very least, if they are to restrict the mosque from being a polling location, lets get churches and synagogues off the list too!
Maybe the mosque should offer some tasty hummus to citizens who choose to vote there. Who wouldn’t want a bite of hummus as thanks for not being discriminatory, while also fulfilling the responsibility to vote? Maybe that’s just what Boca Raton needs to get over its fear of American Muslims.