A Roadblock in Construction: Following recent appeal, students, staff reflect on controversy surrounding mosque

Tara Kandallu

On Feb. 28, the Carmel Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) voted and permitted the Al Salam Foundation to build a mosque at 141st Street and Shelbourne Road. Opponents are now hoping to change this decision with their recent appeal to the county court. Although the preliminary hearing for the appeal is scheduled to take place on May 25, the actual case may not be closed until much later in the year. According to Ashraf Saeed, an Al Salam board member, no comment could be made on the details of the appeal while in duration.

Aiza Syed, a member of the youth board at the Al Salam mosque and junior, said, “There has been a lot of opposition from (those near the possible mosque site). I actually live in the neighborhood where there (are) a lot of opposing views. A lot of my neighbors have talked to us and said that they still kind of oppose it. I am not really sure (if it will be built), but it has been looked most favorably upon by the city and we have passed all construction requirements and all other requirements. I think that it might be built within the next two to three years.” 

Veronica Teeter
BZA Business:
The Board of Zoning Appeals runs a meeting. The hearing for the mosque is May 25.

Although building the mosque faces opposition, Syed and Saeed both said they believe it is necessary because of how far away the current Al Salam mosque is from the large Muslim population in Carmel. 

Saeed said, “In Carmel there are a lot of (Muslim) community members, and the nearest place that we have is half an hour away. Muslims pray five times a day and it is preferred for them to go and pray in congregations. Anything that is five, 10 minutes away is always going to help.”

Syed said, “There are not many places around. A majority of people from Carmel go to Al Salam, but a few go a little farther…  A mosque in Carmel would be a closer meeting place for them.”

Teresa Lyons, Muslim Student Alliance sponsor and science teacher, said she also believes that a mosque in Carmel is necessary for the large amount of Muslims in Carmel.

Lyons said, “All people regardless of religion should be able to find a place of worship located within their community.”

Similarly, Syed said she believes that if churches are allowed to be in Carmel then a mosque should also be allowed. She said the reason why she thinks the two buildings are equal is because the they are both places of worship. When the mosque is built, the buildings will also be similar in size. The Carmel BZA approved the mosque to build a small place of worship along with a parking lot.

Even though Saeed said he believes the mosque is important because of the easier commute that it would bring Muslims in Carmel, he also said he thinks the mosque will actas a community center and bring diversity to the Carmel community.

Saeed said, “It brings diversity. It probably also brings education among the people about all different faiths. If you have a lot of Muslim friends, that’s cool, and that brings a lot of value to you.”

He also said, “Knowing about each other and making each other aware of each other’s faith is (something the mosque will bring). It’s a place of gathering. You can come and interact with other people in the community. We do a lot of interfaith activities and people of other faiths come and visit us. The mosque and help us build relationships with other churches and places of worship.”