Letter: Does mosque benefit Carmel?

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Editor,

While working out recently at one of the gyms in Carmel, I noticed a woman wearing a hijab. She was laughing and talking with the other ladies, and by all appearances she felt relaxed and comfortable, even though she was the only one wearing a hijab. My mind immediately began to question, if the situation was reversed, would a Jewish/Christian lady surrounded by dozens of women in hijabs be as relaxed, laughing, talking and feeling safe?

The U.S. is a great and powerful nation, and we should be tolerant and inclusive. In the last eight years the U.S. has provided refuge to more than 9 million immigrants, the majority of them coming from Muslim nations. And this would be great news if Muslim-dominated nations would be open in the same way to people of Christian and Jewish faiths.  The reality is Christians and Jews are persecuted in these places, so much so that their numbers have dwindled, often down to zero. The growing Muslim population in the U.S. has led to a surge in the number of mosques being built in the last few years.

As we all know, the Carmel Board of Zoning Appeals approved construction of a mosque and Islamic Life Center in Carmel (141st and Shelborne Rd.). This decision was made by a handful of politicians; however, I believe this project deserves more public attention and public input. There are multiple discussions taking place throughout the city and across social networks, analyzing what this project means for our city, the city we live in and love so much.

As of today, the greater Indianapolis area already has three mosques and two Islamic centers, one in Plainfield (one of the biggest in the U.S.). Is a fourth mosque and third Islamic center a necessity, and does it benefit Carmel? It may provide some Carmel politicians the opportunity to shine on a culture diversity map and bring in additional Muslim votes for the next election. It may also have a negative effect on the surrounding community, specifically the average Carmel taxpayer.

Consider this: Historically, property values in areas surrounding large worship/cultural centers, including mosques and Islamic centers, tend to depreciate. Residents in the surrounding neighborhoods have already raised their voices, expressing their concerns. Dearborn, Mich., the home of the nation’s largest Muslim population, as well as large worship/cultural centers, is an example (perhaps extreme) of where this path could lead. Residents are concerned for the safety and security of our city. An Islamic center of this size could bring an influx that Carmel may not be prepared for in terms of housing, job market, school demographics (students with language barriers, or English as a second language, can have an extreme effect on classroom dynamics).

Summarizing all the above, is Carmel ready to face angry neighbors? Property value depreciation? Concerns for safety and security? Sudden population influx?

As of today, Carmel is one of the best, safest and most desirable places to live in the U.S. We all love our town and want to preserve it for our kids. The decisions we make today will determine where we as a community will be in 20 years.

Alex Morozov, Carmel


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