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Pew Forum Report Details Controversies Surrounding Mosques And Islamic Centers In The U.S.

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PEW MOSQUE CONTROVERSY
This August 2010 photo shows a demonstrator at a rally held to oppose the construction of an Islamic Center and mosque near Ground Zero. A new report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows the more than 50 mosques and Islamic centers around the country that have "encountered community resistance" in recent years. | Getty Images

In 2010, a fierce national debate erupted after plans to erect an Islamic community center two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center were announced.

While the plans provoked protests from those who said it would be "a slap in the face" to build a Muslim institution so close to where thousands were killed by Islamic radicals, others rallied around the community center's development, citing freedom of religion.

The community center's development in lower Manhattan has been one of the most publicly debated controversies regarding religious space in recent memory. However, a new report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reveals that the Manhattan community center is neither the first nor the last case of such a controversy.

On Thursday, Mother Jones published an article entitled "Americans Really Don't Like Mosques," in which the new Pew Forum report is cited. The independent news organization writes:

The Pew Forum...has a great new interactive feature up today on the boom in mosque construction in the United States since 2000 -- and the corresponding boomlet in organized backlash to mosque construction. It's not just lower Manhattan -- Pew found 53 different projects that faced resistance from their respective communities:

controversies over mosques
(Credit: Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life)

Regarding the 53 controversial cases cited in the report, the research center notes:

In many cases, the opposition has centered on neighbors’ concerns about traffic, noise, parking and property values -- the same objections that often greet churches and other houses of worship as well as commercial construction projects. In some communities, however, opponents of mosques also have cited fears about Islam, sharia law and terrorism.

Examples include the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley in California (which is now open) and the Masjid Muhammad Islamic Center in Michigan (whose proposal was unanimously rejected by a city planning commission).

Read the full report here

It's important to note that the research center also pointed out that "while the map shows only projects that have met resistance, many mosques and Islamic centers have been built in recent years with little or no opposition."

Click through the slideshow to see most and least Muslim states in America:

Most and Least Muslim States in America
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Filed by Dominique Mosbergen