Harford County, MD

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Description

In early 2020, the Harford Islamic Center faces vocal opposition and online threats in response to their plan to convert an existing barn in a rural zone of Bel Air into a mosque. At a subsequent public meeting of the Development Advisory Committee residents speak out against the project but generally avoid anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Creator

Bryce Bentinck

Year

2020

Proposed Project

The project consisted of a 12-acre section of a larger 55-acre property zoned for rural residential use. An existing barn on the property was to be converted to a 60-seat mosque.

Outcome

The Harford Islamic Center received the required permits and is in the process of converting the existing barn-structure into Masjid Ibrahim.

Narrative

The Harford Islamic Center wanted to build a mosque in the town of Bel Air to serve its small congregation of about 28 families. In late February 2020, the congregation was in the initial phase of creating a proposal to subdivide a 12-acre parcel out of a larger 51-acre plot and convert an existing barn structure into a mosque for a maximum of 60 worshipers. Access to the mosque was proposed from Quail Creek Ct., a small residential road. Before the proposal was sent to local authorities, the Harford Islamic Center received vocal public opposition to the project, including vicious online threats. Representatives from CAIR worked with the Harford Islamic Center to address anger in the community (Anderson, 2020, Mar 3).

On March 1st 2020, the police were notified of threatening online posts and comments directed at the congregation and their project. Some of these posts encouraged citizens to take up arms in protest and threatened to burn down the center (Anderson, 2020, March 3). Harford County Executive Harry Glassman issued a statement saying, "We do not tolerate violence against anyone and expect our citizens to be a model of civility for the state and the nation" (Anderson, 2020, March 4). At the Development Advisory Committee meeting on March 3, 2020, many residents distanced themselves from the hateful comments as they continued their opposition to the project on the grounds of residential aesthetic, precedent, and traffic. The proposed use of Quail Creek Ct. as the primary access to the property was of particular concern. Residents of the neighborhood held that since the property also bordered Creswell Rd (State Highway 543) it was inappropriate to use the entrance on Quail Creek Ct. Some residents cited a declaration of covenants signed by the previous owner in the 1990s and edited in 2005, which showed the intention to limit land usage to residential only. The Developmental Advisory Committee stated that these were private documents and therefore not part of the county review. 

The Harford Islamic Center received the required permits to subdivide the property and convert the existing barn structure into what will be known as Masjid-Ibrahim.

References

  • Anderson, D. (2020, Mar 3). Plans to build mosque in Creswell area of Harford County draw outcry, threats on social media. The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved from www. baltimoresun.com.
  • Anderson, D. (2020, March 4). Development meeting on proposed mosque in Harford County draws standing room only crowd Wednesday morning. The Aegis (Bel Air, MD). Retrieved from NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current.

Collection

Citation

Bryce Bentinck, “Harford County, MD,” U.S. Mosque Controversies, accessed December 5, 2021, https://usmc.ecdsomeka.org/items/show/60.

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