Holding signs that read “Muslims Danced with Joy on 9/11” and “Mosques are Monuments to Terrorism,” about 35 critics rallied across the street from the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley on Rio Nedo Friday afternoon to protest the center’s plans to build a mosque in the city.
Using a bullhorn, the protesters shouted anti-Islamic slogans as Muslim families came to worship Friday afternoon. “Go back home” and “We don’t want you here,” the protesters said.
The worshipers were generally shielded from the protesters as more than 70 mosque supporters – Christians, Mormons, Jews, Muslims and Catholics – lined up outside the center’s doors wearing white shirts and name tags that read, “Friend.”
Mosque supporter the Rev. Joe Zarro of Murrieta’s United Church of the Valley, and co-chairman of the Interfaith Council of Murrieta and Temecula, said the dress and name tags were meant to show solidarity and peace. “We have people from different religious organizations and of different faiths showing their support today. We are all here to stand up for our brethren,” Zarro said. “We are calling on the community and city officials to observe tolerance and understanding.”
Michael Toretti, pastoral associate from St. Martha’s Catholic Church in Murrieta, also called on the community to show support for the mosque. “We are here to support the Muslims in our community,” he said. “We support the right of another faith to worship here.”
See also Press-Enterprise, 30 July 2010