New Hampshire Mosque Construction Hampered by Parking Conflict

June 27, 2006

Source: Union Leader

On June 27, 2006 Union Leader reported, "Turf battles on Karatzas Avenue are continuing between homeowners and a planned mosque. Neighbors are calling for the strict enforcement of on-street parking bans, which has mosque officials charging they are being targeted. Construction manager Nermin Cejvan said workers occasionally park two or three cars on the street when they can't be accommodated elsewhere. In response, residents regularly call police, he said. The dispute made it to City Hall last week when homeowners sent aldermen a petition demanding parking remain prohibited on both sides of the road. 'We're not making this a mosque issue,' said Blaise Blouin, the neighbor who started the petition. 'We're making this a no parking issue.' But Cejvan and a state representative said residents are trying to hinder the project because a mosque is being built. 'I wish that that wasn't the reason, but I think that it is,' said Cejvan, who is heading the all-volunteer construction effort. He said only a handful of cars drive on Karatzas Avenue each day, making parking a minor issue. 'They should show some generosity,' Rep. Saghir Tahir said. 'This is harassment.' The Islamic Society of Greater Manchester has been seeking to build New Hampshire's first mosque since 1999. In May it began clearing the 3-acre site, which is off Old Wellington Road in east Manchester. Two neighbors have already fought the 13,085-square-foot mosque in court. Last year, a judge ruled in the mosque's favor, in a suit that said it did not meet setback requirements."