News & Politics

'Bloodshed' Predicted by Member of 'Christian Civil Liberties Union' Over New Mosque in Milwaukee

The group's threats are not idle, in a country that has seen an alarming uptick in violence targeting Muslim communities.

Nationwide blowback targeting Muslim places of worship has now reached South Milwaukee, Wisconsin--where a group calling itself the Christian Civil Liberties Union (CCLU) is aggressively opposing the construction of a new mosque.

The religious facility--Masjid Al-Hudad--does not require prior approval from the city and has already acquired the property on which it will be built.

But that is not stopping the far-right, Christian fundamentalist group CCLU from mobilizing fierce opposition, including at a Common Council meeting last Tuesday.

At the public meeting, CCLU member Bob Braun issued an unclear--but highly alarming--warning. "There's going to be, I predict, bloodshed one of these years coming up," he said, according to local media.

Such intimidation and incitement is being met with some resistance from community members, including high school student Nathaniel Hecimovic, who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting to denounce the CCLU’s campaign as “unacceptable.”

However, the apparent hate group’s threats are not idle, in a country that has seen an alarming uptick in violence targeting Muslim communities.

According to a report released last month by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, 2015 saw more incidents of damage, destruction, intimidation, and vandalism targeting mosques than any other year since the organization began keeping track. This spike was due, in part, to a dramatic rise of incidents in November following the Paris attacks.

What’s more, the hate campaign in Milwaukee echoes similar efforts in other states to block mosque construction and expansion--through public pressure campaigns, as well as intimidation.

After members of the Islamic Center of Fredericksburg, Virginia announced in November that they are planning to expand their facility, they were met with angry protests--and a series of racist, Islamophobic epithets.

And the Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee faced a years-long--and ultimately unsuccessful--legal effort to prevent its construction. Lawyers initially argued that Islam is not a religion and therefore does not deserve First Amendment protections.

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Sarah Lazare is web editor at In These Times. Her work has appeared in publications including The Nation, Tom Dispatch, YES! Magazine, and Al Jazeera America. A former staff writer for AlterNet and Common Dreams, she co-edited the book "About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War."