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ONLY ON 3: Plan for Wilmington mosque faces opposition from neighbors

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — An office building in Wilmington might be turned into a new mosque, but the idea has some neighbors concerned.

The Islamic community is growing in Wilmington and now looking for more space. They found an empty office building on Rankin Street, but rezoning is not the only obstacle they have run into.

“We’re growing just like the larger community,” said Musa Agil, chariman of the Islamic Center of Myrtle Grove. “They are growing, and they need to build new churches and synagogues everywhere, and we are, too.”

Agil says that is why they want to turn a vacant office building at 16th and Rankin streets into a mosque. The building is nestled right in the middle of the historic district.

“We hear everything,” a concerned neighbor said. “Just the thought of 4:30 in the morning hearing doors slamming.”

The homeowner, who did not want to be identified, says early-morning prayers at the mosque are not the only thing she is worried about. In order to use this space the islamic learning center has to get a conditional district rezoning petition approved. This will change the use of the building from an “office” to a “religious institution.”

“We are all just too worried about the loss of property value, and the amount of people it’s going to bring into the neighborhood,” the woman said. “This neighborhood isn’t built for an extra thousand people.”

Agil does not think the location of any kind of religious organization should be an issue.

“The American people are very understanding people, and they’re very educated, intelligent people. They practice their religious right every day,” he said. “I don’t think they would want to stop somebody from practicing his or her right.”

The planning commission will meet July 9 at 6 p.m. in the City Council chambers to consider rezoning the property. They want to hear from anyone who has any objections or concerns.


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