Anti-Muslim shouts from attendees at a town hall meeting in Virginia disrupted a presentation about a new mosque. In video taken by the The Free Lance-Star engineer Samer Shalaby can be seen being berated and called a terrorist by audience members.
“Nobody wants your evil cult in this town,” one man at the meeting said. “I will do everything in my power to make sure [the mosque] does not happen, because you are terrorists. Every one of you are terrorists.”
Shalaby said he was not expecting such a hostile reaction to a mosque being built in Spotsylvania County especially since the new mosque would be replacing a mosque about one mile away.
“The worst part was not necessarily that the gentlemen were expressing themselves in such a way, but was that people started clapping and cheering, and that’s what I was more taken by,” Shalaby said.
Shalaby said he considered cancelling the meeting because he worried tensions might be high after Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, claimed responsibility for the series of terrorist attacks in Paris. He decided to hold the meeting anyway because so many people from the community already agreed to attend.
“With what is going on in the Middle East and the people getting killed in France and what this president is doing to this country — this is not a good time. Postpone this thing,” another man from the audience said.”Right now, what we’re looking at, this is evil. Muslims are evil.”
Despite the negative reaction, Shalaby said he still plans to hold a follow-up meeting for people with legitimate concerns about the project.
“I’ve lived here for a long time and I never really felt because of my religion that I was any different than anybody else. So when this occurred, my first impression was like, wow, I didn’t realise that people had reached this level,” Shalaby said. “My first reaction is I’m not going to lump everybody in the county or anybody in my area just because of the actions of a few. I wouldn’t be any different than those people.”
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