Protesters denounce planned mosque in Temecula

TEMECULA, Calif. As worshippers at the /*Islamic Center of Temecula Valley*/ arrived to pray, a small but vocal group of about two dozen protestors waved American flags and shouted through bullhorns, denouncing a plan to build a new mosque in another part of the Riverside County town.

"I just don't agree with their beliefs," said Cynthia Daum, who assembled with the protestors across the street from the center.

The existing Islamic center has been operating in Temecula out of an industrial building for almost 10 years. Members have saved the funds to build a new mosque on a 4-acre plot of vacant land in a different area of the city.

Members of the community showed up in front of the Islamic Center to lend support, outnumbering the protestors by about 10 to one. They said they won't let the anger of some community members scare them away from building a mosque because it all comes down to civil rights.

"We respect everyone's opinion - we're American," said Hadi Nael. "They have the right to freedom of speech, we have the freedom of religion."

The proposed location of the mosque, in close proximity to a church, has stirred emotions over what some people see as an intrusion on the community.

"I have witnessed what happens to many nations in the world by the expansion of Islamic ideology," said Mano Bakh. "They destroy the community, they destroy the country."

The Islamic Center will submit its building proposal to the city's Planning Commission in August. Meanwhile, protestors are circulating a petition to stop its progress.

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