LIMA — Lima Mayor Dave Berger condemned the distribution of a flier calling for a local doctor to stop his attempt to open an Islamic worship center as the mayor described the action as “a truly despicable act of religious bigotry.”
During his weekly media briefing, Berger held up a sheet of paper Wednesday with the headline “Help Put a Stop to Allentown Rd. Mosque” and said, “This sort of thing should not be tolerated, just like we don’t protest where Catholic churches are located or where Protestant churches are located, there is no basis for anyone in our community to be leading a set of actions that would prevent a group of good people in our community a house of religious worship.
“We are not going to tolerate religious bigotry and that is exactly what this is,” he added. “This is absolutely unconscionable that we have someone in the community who has decided this is something they need to protest, and the fact they don’t even have the courage to put their name on it ought to illustrate how contemptible they are.”
Berger said as mayor he supports the congregation of worshipping Muslims in the community who wish to locate a worship place in an existing building or to seek ground to construct a mosque.
He also requested the person distributing the fliers to stop and pleaded with those who may be handed one of these flyers to reject them and tell the person to halt these actions.
The flier calls on business owners, church organizations and residents along Allentown Road and the Westgate neighborhood to come together to stop Lima cardiologist Dr. Adel Shaheen from opening an Islamic mosque in a building across from Yazel’s Colonial flower shop.
The flier said the cause is a “rational one” and, “We do not wish to have a mosque in this area of Lima.” The flier asks Shaheen to refrain from putting a “mosque in this area, or we will protest.”
As of Wednesday morning, Shaheen had not seen the flier and he was only made aware of its existence early Wednesday morning after the mayor’s briefing.
“There are a lot of doctors who plan to come to the area, but when they learn they will not have any place to worship they don’t come and this prevents good doctors and good people from coming into the area,” Shaheen said. “This is a small Islamic community here and we have no place to worship like everybody else.
“We are trying to establish a place for the Islamic community to have a place to pray,” he said, “and also a place we can have interaction with the rest of the community and the other churches so we understand each other and have a dialogue of understanding and to live in peace.”