West Boynton, FL

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Description

A documented account of Case No. FL_04, occurring in West Boynton Beach, FL, 33436 from April 2011 to [?]

Creator

Zia Pirani

Proposed Project

Islamic Center; Mosque; Cemetery; School. According to the congregation’s architect, Saleh Elrowney, the project will encompass a 17,000 square foot building that includes the mosque, a Sunday school, a courtyard, and administrative offices. The mosque will also be built with an influence in Mediterranean Spanish architecture

Outcome

Approved as proposed; finished construction. Current Status:
The mosque ended up being built. However, around the same time of the 2016 election, with Trump’s proposal of a Muslim ban, Al-Amin Center of Florida had vandalism on their signs as well as threats.

Narrative

In 2011, a group of Muslims planned to build a mosque in West Boynton Beach, Florida. They had been renting space to congregate near US Hwy 441 and wanted their new site to be located on 8101 South Military Trail (Pesantes 2011). This specific site was originally supposed to be used to build a church in 2003, but that never ended up happening. The site was already approved for building a religious institution. However, since the church was never built, this group of Muslims wanted to build their mosque on it instead. The site had been prepared and  approved to be used for city purposes since 1998 (Pesantes 2011).

Although the county commission had approved project to build the mosque in April 2011, residents raised questions about the project. Some residents were irritated that there had been no public announcement about the project. (Public hearings had taken place when the site was under initial developed for a church project in 2003.) Others expressed concerns about the disruption that might be caused due to calls for prayer through large speakers, and the distracting structure of the mosque, specifically, the minarets and the dome.

On June 7, 2011, the Coalition of Boynton West Residential Association (COBWRA), an association representing the communities of West Boynton Beach, held an informational meeting in the Lantana Road Branch Library (Pesantes 2011). According to the association’s website, COBWRA had no problems or concerns with the plan to build a mosque on Military Trail. The one request that COBWRA made however was that a deputy should stand on guard on Fridays during Jummah prayers to regulate traffic on Military Trail.

Residents from Gateway Palms, a community close to the proposed mosque project and one not represented by COBWRA, attended the informational meeting in large numbers (Pesantes 20110). They were upset that the project had been approved without a public hearing and that it would move forward without their input or opinions being represented. Many were angered by the approval of the construction of the mosque, and voiced their opinions, stating that as taxpayers, they shouldn’t have to pay for something they don’t want. Others expressed fear that the mosque would lead to an increase in traffic, that it would not be open to the public, and that the architecture would be an eyesore. Alarm over the source of funding for the project could be heard as well (Pesantes 2011).

The Muslim group’s architect, Saleh Elrowney, assured attendees at the meeting that no loud speakers would be used for call to prayers and that there was no plan for building minarets or domes. He explained that the project would encompass a 17,000 square foot building that includes the mosque, a Sunday school, a courtyard, and administrative offices, and that mosque’s architecture would be influenced by a Mediterranean Spanish style (Pesantes 2011). In order to calm down the citizens living around the area of the Al-Amin project, Elrowney also stated that there would be a larger distance between the mosque and the homes than required by the county code, and that the buildings would not be higher than 35 feet. Despite Elrowney’s efforts, there still remained a lot of chaos surrounding the Al-Amin project (Pesantes 2011).

Though there remained chaos surrounding the project, the Al-Amin Center of Florida eventually finished construction. After construction, the Al-Amin Center for Florida did very well in Boynton Beach. The center’s neighbors made sure to make them feel welcome by correcting the misconceptions of Islam. They have “hosted interfaith Mother’s Day potlucks, welcomed non-Muslim community members to their Ramadan celebrations, and invited congregants from local synagogues over for dinner” (Farzan, 2016). However, many years later during the 2016 elections, Muslims faced much more adversity than compared to previous years. FBI statistics show that Muslim hate crimes increased by 67% when Trump first introduced his campaign in 2015 (Johnson 2016).

On November 3, 2016, an unidentified individual drove to the Al-Amin Center of Florida, and spray-painted derogatory words onto the mosque’s welcome sign. The graffiti was removed, and the Palm Beach County police were determined to find the culprit, but they never succeeded (Farzan 2016).

The Al-Amin Center of Florida remains an active part of the South Florida community today, even though it has faced much adversity in the past.

Last Updated

November 4, 2019

Collection

Citation

Zia Pirani, “West Boynton, FL,” U.S. Mosque Controversies, accessed December 5, 2021, https://usmc.ecdsomeka.org/items/show/18.

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