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San Martin Islamic Community Finally Gets Approval To Build Mosque

SAN MARTIN (KPIX 5) -- A 13-year wait for a mosque and cemetery is coming to an end for the San Martin Islamic community.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously endorsed plans for the 14-acre Cordoba Center to be built on Monterey Road.

"Over to the right, we see the beautiful hill, that's where our cemetery will be," said Noshaba Afzal, as she looked over the barren land where the Islamic center will be built.

Afzal said even after the over dozen year battle with neighbors to get the center built, her jubilation has to be measured.

"It's difficult for us to celebrate openly and publicly about the unanimous approval because we don't want anybody to see that as us rubbing it in," she said.

The community bought the land in 2006 and drew up plans for what they called the Cordoba Center that included a mosque, a community center, a caretaker's home and cemetery.

But neighbors in rural San Martin rose up against the plans, citing increased traffic, noise, architecture and wate contamination concerns from the cemetery.

"There are issues in this plan that we see just don't protect us enough," said one neighbor who made comments to the Board of Supervisors about the potential for water well contamination. "I just want to be sure that nothing's happening to our water."

The Islamic community says it has spent $3 million revising the plans to meet state and local standards, and has also had to fight opposition based on racial and religious bigotry.

"I would say 50 percent is Islamaphobia, and 50 percent is concern over water, traffic and other issues which have all be addressed in the independently certified environmental impact report," Afzal said.

For the last few years, the community has had to worship out of a converted barn on the back lot of one of
its members.

"To us, that barn is our place of worship, but if you look at it relatively, it's not an appropriate place to worship," said Hina Moheyuddin, an Islamic Community Member.

The community is looking forward to a ground breaking and the end of a planning process that began even before one 12-year-old Islamic community member was born.

"I think it's very important to make sure that the next generation of Muslims in the South Bay feel accepted," said Devin Bush.

The issue will come back to the board for one more vote which is considered a formality.

The community hopes to break ground early next year, but members also say they are bracing for potential lawsuits from opponents.

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