Muslims in USA face fears, bias to build, expand mosques

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As the number of Muslims in the United States grows, mosques know they must expand as well. But those plans to expand often run into hostile resistance.

Opponents try to use zoning laws to block mosque building or expansion. That has left some local Muslims wondering if they are second-class citizens when it comes to religion.

Of the estimated 330,000 houses of worship in the United States, only 2,500 are mosques. Fewer than 200 were built new, said Omar Khalidi, librarian for the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT.

“The vast majority of American mosques were buildings built for other purposes,” he said. Those kinds of converted buildings worked for first-generation Muslim Americans. But they don’t work as well for their children, Khalidi said.

While immigrants in the 1960s and 1970s were content with a place to pray, their children want more from the mosques. They want their mosques to have the same kind of amenities that many churches offer.

That has led many Muslim groups to design new mosques modeled after megachurches.


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This post was last updated: Nov. 21, 2013