Kentucky: Mosque Protest Efforts in Florence

By R.E.A.L. Organization • on August 16, 2010

Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) supports our universal human rights of freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, and freedom of worship for ALL people — without exception.  We reject protests against houses of worship, and we reject violence and attacks on houses of worship.

But today, in yet another of the continuing coast-to-coast protests against mosques around America, anti-Islam activists are seeking to recruit  protesters to demand a halt to plans since 2008 to build a mosque in Florence, Kentucky, with claims that the local mosque is part of an effort in the “takeover of our country.”  Mosque protesters are also stating that who object their efforts to deny religious freedom and freedom of worship to Kentucky Muslims are “anti-American people” who are “free to leave” the country.

According to the  Kentucky Courier-Journal, the application was filed in April 2008 and approved by the Boone County Planning Commission in June 2008.

The North Kentucky Enquirer reported that a group called the “Mercy Foundation, Inc., has approval to build a mosque near Mall Road in Florence, with another report states is to be built at 900 Cayton Road.  The Enquirer states the effort is led by a Florence, Kentucky physician, Mohammed Zineddin, who is president of the Mercy Foundation.  Both the Enquirer and the Courier-Journal report that the building area is zoned for Commercial Two (C-2) allowing religious buildings.  FOX 19 News reported that the mosque was being planned by the Islamic Center of Northern Kentucky.

Kentucky: Plot Where Planned for Florence, Kentucky Mosque  (Photo: Fox 19 News)

Kentucky: Plot Where Planned for Florence, Kentucky Mosque (Photo: Fox 19 News)

On July 25, 2010, the North Kentucky Enquirer reported that that “Boone County Assistant Zoning Administrator Mitch Light said there has been no such public response to this plan. ‘We have not heard from anyone opposed to the project,’ Light said.”  

Illustrations of the planned Islamic Center of Northern Kentucky’s mosque are online on their website.

Kentucky: Florence Mosque Illustration (Image: Islamic Center of Northern Kentucky)

Kentucky: Florence Mosque Illustration (Image: Islamic Center of Northern Kentucky)

Apparently this has now changed. According to the August 16, 2010  Kentucky Courier-Journal, the mosque proposal is now receiving “a strong reaction from some in the community,” including calls to Forence city officials, a flier being distributed in Florence neighborhoods.

FOX 19 News reports in its story “Neighborhood flyer rejects mosque”: “A flyer left on doors and mailboxes in a Florence neighborhood is stirring up more attention around a mosque being built nearby. Neighbors we spoke with had mixed feelings about the mosque, but everyone had the same concern, who is circulating the flyer and why didn’t that person/group want to be identified.”

According to the Courier-Journal, the anti-mosque flier states: “Cayton Road is in your neighborhood… Everyone needs to contact Florence City Council to have this stopped. Americans need to stop the takeover of our country.”  FOX 19 News has images of the flier including its statement urging protesters to “Do your part to stop the take-over of our country of our country.  Use your voice to speak out.  If anti-American people do not like the way we are, they are free to leave.  We are the United States of America, not an Islamic nation.”  The fliers were anonymous, but appears to have the same image as an individual’s Facebook page photo background graphic, with a web site protesting the mosque.

Kentucky: Anti-Mosque Flier Being Circulated (Photo: Fox 19 News)

Kentucky: Anti-Mosque Flier Being Circulated (Photo: Fox 19 News)

Kentucky: Anti-Mosque Flier Being Circulated (Photo: Fox 19 News)

Kentucky: Anti-Mosque Flier Being Circulated (Photo: Fox 19 News)

FOX 19 News has a video report online on the efforts by anti-Islam activists to encourage others to protest the mosque.

The Courier-Journal quotes Joshua Wice, community/business development director for the city of Florence who states that he is not surprised that people have questions, but all of the questions are being answered to people’s satisfaction.

The Courier-Journal also states: “”Much of the criticism has focused on city or county officials for allowing the project to go forward or not holding public hearings, but undue scrutiny or unwarranted efforts to impede the project might well have violated federal laws. The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act is often described as federal zoning for religious uses.”

The Courier-Journal also reports on a website “run by a Boone County resident that posts anti-Islamic messages” to seek Florence residents to “Stop the Mosque.”

Kentucy Mosque Protester "The Vigilante" Mark Hallenberg (Photo: Facebook)

Kentucy Mosque Protester "The Vigilante" Mark Hallenberg (Photo: Facebook)

The Kentucky anti-Islam, anti-Mosque website called “The Vigilante” describes “Enemy One” as “Islam.”  The anti-mosque website is led by a Christian, Mark Hallenberg, in Kentucky who views the anti-mosque campaign as part of promoting “Christian values” and attacking a “Marxist-Socialistic agenda.”

In his protest against the planned mosque and “Northern Kentucky Rising,” Mark Hallenberg claims that he contacted two dozen Boone County residents about the planned Florence, Kentucky mosque, with 50 percent opposing it (according to him).  Mr. Hallenberg also calls for an investigation into the funding  of the mosque and into Mercy Foundation. He also repeats claims from others that “Islam declared war on the United States.”

On Mark Hallenberg’s web site, he links to the Heritage Foundation, and promotes videos by Pat Condell and Frank Gaffney, and praises Geert Wilders as a political “Braveheart.”

Mark Hallenberg repeats claims by Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) leader Pamela Geller on Oklahoma City bomber  Timothy McVeigh SIOA leader Geller claimed in April 2010 that the Oklahoma City bombing was “the first heinous Islamic terror attack on American soil.”

Kentucky mosque protester Mark Hallenberg is also a supporter of the Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) group led by Pamela Geller.

The Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) group is the leading organization behind the planned September 11, 2010 protest against the 51 Park Place Islamic Center in New York.  SIOA’s top leaders have also been active in mosque protests in Staten Island.  After the recent decision not to sell land to a mosque in Staten Island, SIOA leaders and supporters claimed victory, with SIOA supproters stating: “SIOA is mighty and growing stronger every minute. The evil comes out of the mosques, now and in Mohammed’s time. Close and dismantle ALL mosques, mosques have no place in America the Free….One down and so many more to go.”

R.E.A.L. has reported that the SIOA’s Executive Director seeks to recruit members and supports the violent English Defence League group.  SIOA supporters have promoted the plan for a “Burn A Qur’an Day,” and call for the criminalization of Islam in America.

Kentucky Anti-Mosque Protest Leader Mark Hallenberg - Supporter of the Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) Group (Image: Facebook)

Kentucky Anti-Mosque Protest Leader Mark Hallenberg - Supporter of the Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) Group (Image: Facebook)

Mr. Hallenberg has used the SIOA Facebook since May 2010 to recruit Kentucky supporters for his anti-Islam movement in Kentucky.

Kentucky Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) Supporter Mark Hallenberg Started Recruiting Anti-Islam, Anti-Mosque Supporters for Kentucky in May 2010

Kentucky Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) Supporter Mark Hallenberg Started Recruiting Anti-Islam, Anti-Mosque Supporters for Kentucky in May 2010 (Image: Facebook)

On Mark Hallenberg’s Facebook page, he states that he is a member of the Northern Kentucky Tea Party.  R.E.A.L. has contacted the Boone County representative of the Northern Kentucky Tea Party for comment, and received the following response: “The Northern Kentucky Tea Party is not involved in any way with a protest of a planned mosque in Florence, or anywhere. Our issues are those which impact free people of all faiths: Fiscal Responsibility, Limited Government, and Free Markets.”"

Mark Hallenberg also claims to work for a survivalist organization that promotes Krista Branch‘s Tea Party supporting video of individuals waving Gadsden flags, “I’ve got some news, we’re taking names, We’re waiting now for the judgment day.”

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Responsible for Equality and Liberty (R.E.A.L.) is deeply concerned about the escalation of intolerance and hate that we seeing growing across America towards Muslims and Islamic mosques.  We will be inviting the public to join us in a freedom of religion, freedom of worship, and freedom of conscience event on September 11 at 2 PM in Freedom Plaza in Washington DC to give Americans an opportunity to publicly show their support for such freedoms.  There is more information at  911Freedom.com.

Responsible for Equality and Liberty (R.E.A.L.) supports our universal human rights to freedom of religion, freedom of worship, and freedom of conscience for all people of all faiths, including the freedom of religion supported under Article 1 of the United States Constitution. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

We urge those who promote hate and intolerance to unburden the hate from their hearts.

We urge all to Choose Love, Not Hate. Love Wins.

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