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Members of new Harford County mosque say they've experienced hostile behavior from neighbors

Members of new Harford County mosque say they don't feel welcomed
Members of new Harford County mosque say they don't feel welcomed 02:45

BALTIMORE -- Members of a new mosque in Harford County say they don't feel welcome in their community.

They tell WJZ they've experienced hostile behavior from their neighbors since the place of worship opened earlier this year.

The Harford Islamic Center opened in March. Since then, members say it's become a hub for many in the community.

"They all come in here because they love the atmosphere," Harford Islamic Center Board Member Arshad Khawja said. "They love being in a place of worship."

But, not everyone has been so welcoming.

Khwaja said there's a legal battle going on between leaders of the mosque and some members of the community surrounding it, who are not happy that the facility has been built so close to their neighborhood.

"Lawsuits, intimidation, they've been outside of our property taking pictures of our children, of our vehicles, etc." Khwaja said. 

Earlier this week, the Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a news release asking the community to support the mosque.

"It's unfortunate and it's unacceptable," CAIR Maryland Director Zainab Chaudry said. "We're calling on County Executive Cassilly and other elected officials in Harford County to stand with the community to celebrate the diversity within this community."

WJZ stopped in at several houses in the community, many neighbors weren't home or didn't want to go on camera.

However, several people voiced their concerns about the mosque at council meeting four years ago, citing concerns about increased traffic.

WJZ reached out to county executive Bob Cassilly who told us in a statement that, "Harford County welcomes people of all faiths," and that, "Harford Islamic Center has met all county requirements for opening and is welcome to operate."

WJZ also reached out to Jacob Bennett, the councilman who represents this area, who said he supports the Muslim community and has reached out to leaders of the mosque to discuss their concerns.

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