Dissent Greets Mosque Opening

June 27, 2009

Author: Michael Paulson

Source: The Boston Globe


With the cutting of a taut green ribbon and the haunting chant of a call to prayer, a crowd of hundreds of local Muslims inaugurated a large new mosque yesterday in Roxbury Crossing.

The official opening of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, which has been in use since last f all, was greeted with relief by many Muslims, who had faced enormous controversy and financial challenges that caused the planning and construction to drag on for two decades. The building remains incomplete - many decorative elements have not yet been added, and a second phase with a school building remains just a dream - but Muslim leaders decided it was time to open.

A handful of protesters stood on the other side of Malcolm X Boulevard holding signs reading “Prayer, Yes. Extremism, No!’’ A group of Muslims marched from an interfaith breakfast over to the protest carrying white roses, which they gave to the protesters as a sign of peace. A brief argument ensued between Charles Jacobs, the leading critic of the mosque, and supporters of the mosque, and along the sidewalk a few mosque advocates carried on parallel debates with demonstrators. Eventually, the groups retreated to opposite sides of the street.

For local Muslims, it was a day for celebration, particularly because the construction had been so difficult. An estimated 1,800 worshipers packed into the building for the Friday afternoon worship service, which normally draws about 600.