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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Neighbors fight Islamic Foundation expansion in Villanova PA citing illegal schools, camps,broadcasts, immigrants, and child abusers

Neighbors fight Islamic Foundation expansion in Villanova PA citing illegal schools, camps,broadcasts, immigrants, and child abusers

July 5, 2006

http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/local/states/pennsylvania/14969266.htm

During the November hearing, Manal el-Menshawy, foundation general manager, acknowledged that "much more than six, about 10," retreats had been held during summers, violating the 30-day intervals. The foundation also began an elementary school in 1999 and was the site of a summer camp in 2004, neither permitted under the original zoning order.

In addition, retreat groups set up outdoor speakers whose sounds carried easily into backyards of neighbors, and refugees from Turkey and homeless people were temporarily housed in the dormitories.

Neighbors testified at the May hearing that they were especially concerned that the foundation could not provide much information on what groups used the grounds for retreats or assurances that the foundation supervised their activities.

Exacerbating relations with neighbors were reports this year that a convicted child abuser, subsequently identified through the Pennsylvania Megan's Law Web site, had been spotted at the foundation. In addition, the foundation's Web site was discovered to link to what Greenfield said was "some material that can be construed as anti-Semitic or anti-American."

Foundation officials told the zoning board in May that the child abuser did not live or work at the foundation - although acknowledging he used it as a mailing address - and the foundation said it could not be responsible for the content of Web sites to which it provides links.

"It has very little to do with the fact it is an Islamic institution," said Township Commissioner Phil Rosenzweig, who has been heavily involved in working to bring both groups together. "It could be a church, a synagogue, a mosque, a day camp, any institution. It's about following the rules and being a good neighbor."

Neighbor's fight Islamic foundation's expansion

By Jeff Price
Inquirer Staff Writer

Like good fences, good covenants make good neighbors.

Broken covenants - well, they can sow anger and mistrust.

When the Foundation for Islamic Education took over a 23-acre college campus in Villanova in 1994, Muslim leaders overcame neighborhood opposition by agreeing to abide by an array of restrictions, including limits on traffic, permanent residents, religious retreats and noise.

Now, as the foundation seeks zoning permission to expand operations after 12 years of growth, it has had to admit it violated not only those covenants but also the original 1994 zoning order.

Foundation leaders are pledging to be better neighbors from here on, but residents are proving a tougher sell this time.

The Lower Merion Zoning Hearing Board took up the expansion proposal in November. After a second hearing in May, James Greenfield, attorney for 26 neighborhood families, asked the board to reject the zoning application, saying: "The foundation clearly will not police itself and has no qualms about expanding its use without regard for governmental regulation. The board must, therefore, regard this institution as a threat to the surrounding community."

The foundation, headed by Mustafa Ahmed and represented by attorney Fred Fromhold, declined last week to comment on neighbors' complaints, pending the zoning decision, tentatively due July 13.

During the hearing, Fromhold said: "I think it is safe to say that there have been some violations," but added that "the foundation wants to be a good neighbor."

It began operations at 1860 Montgomery Ave. after receiving a special zoning exception to use the residential property as a mosque for Islamic services and education. Muslim leaders cited a Main Line-area Islamic community at the time of 75 families, with growth projected to 150.

In 1993, the foundation, a New York nonprofit religious group headed by Saudi businessmen, agreed to buy the campus of Northeastern Christian Junior College, the former Morris Clothier estate, for $2.7 million.

About 60 families dropped opposition to the 1994 zoning change after agreeing on the covenants. The zoning board, incorporating some of the covenants in its order, then ruled that the foundation's plans posed no threat to public health, safety and welfare.

That was the high point of the relationship.

The zoning order had given the foundation approval to hold as many as six retreats a year, at least 30 days apart, and to use the college dormitories to house up to four members of the support staff and their families. Outdoor sound systems were prohibited, as were outdoor calls to prayers, or calls inside that neighbors could hear.

During the November hearing, Manal el-Menshawy, foundation general manager, acknowledged that "much more than six, about 10," retreats had been held during summers, violating the 30-day intervals. The foundation also began an elementary school in 1999 and was the site of a summer camp in 2004, neither permitted under the original zoning order.

In addition, retreat groups set up outdoor speakers whose sounds carried easily into backyards of neighbors, and refugees from Turkey and homeless people were temporarily housed in the dormitories.

Neighbors testified at the May hearing that they were especially concerned that the foundation could not provide much information on what groups used the grounds for retreats or assurances that the foundation supervised their activities.

"It gets kind of scary in terms of security and what they're doing up there," said Kent Haas, one of about 30 neighbors whose properties abut the foundation.

Exacerbating relations with neighbors were reports this year that a convicted child abuser, subsequently identified through the Pennsylvania Megan's Law Web site, had been spotted at the foundation. In addition, the foundation's Web site was discovered to link to what Greenfield said was "some material that can be construed as anti-Semitic or anti-American."

Foundation officials told the zoning board in May that the child abuser did not live or work at the foundation - although acknowledging he used it as a mailing address - and the foundation said it could not be responsible for the content of Web sites to which it provides links.

However, the incidents added to residents' nervousness about their neighbor. Of four contacted for interviews, only Haas allowed his name to be used; the others cited the child abuser and the Web links, among other concerns, for not wanting to comment. But all testified on the record at the zoning hearings.

"The people running the foundation are perfectly nice," Greenfield said, but given "the world we live in, there is always going to be some level of concern about what people are doing."

Adeeba al-Zaman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Philadelphia office said foundation officials had been "very open with their neighbors." They have held open houses during Ramadan, she said. "They are very warm and welcoming."

Although the neighborhood, according to residents, is roughly 50 percent Jewish, no one cited religion as an issue.

"It has very little to do with the fact it is an Islamic institution," said Township Commissioner Phil Rosenzweig, who has been heavily involved in working to bring both groups together. "It could be a church, a synagogue, a mosque, a day camp, any institution. It's about following the rules and being a good neighbor."

It was not until early 2004, after residents complained about plans to house refugees and homeless people, that the foundation applied to the zoning board to expand activities under the 1994 zoning order, according to Michael Wylie, township zoning officer.

Upon protests by neighbors, the foundation dropped plans for housing refugees and the homeless. It is seeking approval for the elementary school and for summer camps.

As the zoning board moves toward a decision, another incident has roiled the waters. Haas said last week that on June 11 "the foundation started blaring Arabic broadcasts at an outing once again."

Police were called, but Haas said foundation officials told officers that they had a waiver for that day.

Wylie said he was investigating, but "we didn't give any kind of approval to use any kind of amp system."

Haas said he was amazed the foundation would risk a confrontation with neighbors during its appeal to expand activities.

Menshawy, foundation general manager, denied there were any outdoor speakers. She said police had responded twice that day but "didn't hear anything."

No matter what the zoning board rules, Rosenzweig realizes it will take time to win back the neighbors' trust.

"Hopefully," he said, "the sides will continue to talk to try to resolve their differences."

For his part, Rosenzweig said, he plans "to make sure everybody follows the rules."


Contact staff writer Jeff Price at 610-313-8124 or jprice@phillynews.com

---------------------------------

MIM: According to the PI article above "neighbors testified that they were especially concerned that that foundation could not provide much information on what groups used the grounds for retreats or that the Islamic foundation supervised their activities". MIM will provide that information which includes numerous events organised by the Islamic Circle of North America and Muslim American Society and Young Muslims conference and camps which were held at the FIE last year.

Villanova residents have many reasons to be concerned about what what is going on at the FIE. One of the groups which uses the FIE as a meeting place is the Islamic Circle of North America . Besides inviting radical Islamist speakers and having ties to Al Qaeda, the regional head of ICNA, Iqbal Barqai, threatened that the offices of the Philadelphia Inquirer could be attacked during protests over the Danish cartoons. Barqai, whose name appears below as a contact person for an event recently held at Villanova was quoted in the Christian Science Monitor :

Most Muslims in Pennsylvania have cancelled their subscriptions, says Iqbal Baqai, the state representative of the Islamic Circle of North America. "We are going to keep protesting till they say they are sorry," he says. "Muslims are very angry and the Inquirer offices could even be attacked." http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0209/p02s01-ussc.html (see announcement below "Vision and Mission of the Muslim Community in Philadelphia)

For additional information see : http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/1645

(MIM: The Council on American Islamic Relations a Saudi funded front group for Hamas- also makes use of the FIE premises. The group which has 5 of it's members in jail on terrorism charges was described by Dr. Daniel Pipes in an article entitled "CAIR - Moderate Friends of Terror".

Please scroll down to see listings of CAIR events which took place at the Foundation for Islamic Education.)

http://icnaphilly.com/?q=node/42&PHPSESSID=ffdcf920f9c30ed89cc0bf863a14dd8c

Vision and Mission of Muslim Community in Philadelphia
First ICNA, MAS and Majlis Al-Shura combined one day Family Conference at Foundation of Islamic Education, Villanova on Saturday, August 6th.

Discussion on following topics
Youth, Women, Education, Media, Politics and Dawah

When: Saturday, August 6th, 2005 (10 AM- 10 PM)
Where: 1860 Montgomery Ave, Villanova, PA

LUNCH, DINER, AND SNACKS WILL BE AVAILABLE

· Lectures/ Speeches of Local Imams
And Dr. Qatanani from NJ
· Group discussions
· Basketball Tournament
· Young Muslims presentation
· Day Care and baby-sitting arrangements
· Bring the whole family with you
· World's largest handwritten Quran in Nasta'aleeq script from Pakistani Artist/caligrapher Ishrat Ali Khan

Mahmoud Hamed
Muslim American Society
610-348-2034

Iqbal Baqai
Islamic Circle of N. America
610-831-1430

Imam Asim A.
Majlis Al-Shura
267-236-4682

------

http://icnaphilly.com/?q=node/62&PHPSESSID=c9c0d866d35e51be176a58c1a9428003

Young Muslims (Philly unit) invites you to an Eid Dinner / Fundraising on Saturday Nov. 19th Villanova to help the victims of earthquake in Pakistan. Flyer
Please encourage YM by attending this program with your family and friends.
Moulana Yousuf Islahi is the guest speaker. He will speak in Urdu but the English translation will be provided also. The Program will start soon after Asar Prayers around 2:45 PM.

Bring the items of any value as mentioned in the flyer to sell. All proceeds will be sent to Pakistan. This will provide you with the opportunity to sell and buy your household items. Sale items will be
displayed in the Gym and dinner will also be served in Gym after Maghrib.

Hope to see you all

--------------------------------

MIM: Last year a youth camp in Villanova from the Young Muslims wing of ICNA/ MAS featured Mazen Mokhtar the New Jersey Imam who was investigated for ties to Al Qaeda. The speakers list was a who's who of radical Islamists.

http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/239

NJ. Man Accused of Aiding Terrorists Called Moderate
W. Post
August 13, 2004

MIM: Imam Mazen Mokhtar was accused of ties to Al Qaeda was a scheduled speaker at a Muslim Youth Camp in Pennsylvania .(Villanova).

The Muslim Youth Camps are run by ICNA and MAS , two groups behind the establishment of the Universal Heritage Foundation in Kissimmee Florida.

The Muslim Camp Theme was entitled "A Few Good Men". Another scheduled speaker was the web administrator for the UHF, Tayebb Yunus, more proof of "zero degrees of separation' between groups like Al Qaeda , and major Muslim organisations.

The youth camps used to be called "Jihad Camps" and "Afterlife Camps"

For more on this see:

MAS/ ICNA "Muslim American Subversives" and "Islamist Conservatives of North America"

http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/216

Florida Trail of Terror (About ICNA).

http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/219

MIM: The theme of the camp was "Looking For A Few Good Men"


Invited Speakers:

Sheikh Ibrahim Negm
Ustadh Muhammad AlShareef
Br. Safi Khan
Br. Mazen Mokhtar
Dr. Obeydullah Choudry
Br. Salman Ali
Br. Arif Husain
Sheikh Ibrahim Negm
Sheikh Abdullah Yusuf Madyun
Imam Musa Azam
Br. Fisal Hamouda
Br. Tayyab Yunus


Detailed Bios Coming soon!

--------------------------

. Man Accused of Aiding Terrorists Called 'Moderate'

Speaker at Villanova PA Youth Camp

By Susan Schmidt and Michelle Garcia Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, August 12, 2004;

Page A03 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A58065-2004Aug11.html

NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J., Aug. 11 -- Mazen Mokhtar, a computer professional trained at Johns Hopkins University, is a familiar face to young activist Muslim men in New Jersey, often delivering what acquaintances describe as mild speeches extolling marriage and religious piety.

But Wednesday, Mokhtar, an Egyptian-born American citizen, found himself issuing a statement denying government accusations that he has aided violent terrorists. Some of those who know him expressed surprise at allegations that he worked with a British man who is accused of soliciting funds for terrorism by operating jihadist Web sites.

"I do not support and I have never supported any action that harms innocent people," Mokhtar, 36, said in the statement, released by his attorney. "I have never knowingly assisted any terrorist group."

Mokhtar has often lectured to youth groups at mosques, has spoken at Rutgers University rallies supporting the Palestinian cause and was invited to speak later this month at a summer camp run by the Young Muslims of North America.

"From our experience, he is a very nice guy," said Omar Ranginwala, an official with the Young Muslims group who is involved with the camp. Mokhtar, a father of three, is "soft-spoken and not known to have been associated with extremist views or Web sites."

"We are all very surprised that this thing came up," he said. At this point, group members "don't have much knowledge about it."

This year's camp is to be held at Villanova Academy, an Islamic school in Pennsylvania, and its theme is "A Few Good Men/Lives of the Khulafa Rashideen (Pious Caliphs)."

Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the group's summer gatherings were called "Jihad Camp." Advertised speakers in August 2001 included Imam Siraj Wahaj, identified by federal prosecutors in 1995 as a "possible unindicted co-conspirator" in the terrorism case against blind sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and Saffet Catovic, a Bosnian associated with the Benevolence International Foundation, a now-defunct Muslim charity accused by the U.S. government of financing terrorism.

"It was to help them to understand what the concept of jihad really is," said Ranginwala, saying that it is more about a struggle to live a faithful life than about engaging in holy war.

Mokhtar's lawyer, Yasser Helal, confirmed that Mokhtar has been under investigation by U.S. authorities since at least March, when Homeland Security agents seized computer files and other records in a search of Mokhtar's North Brunswick, N.J., home. Helal said he was not prepared to discuss the investigation or to comment on allegations that Mokhtar worked with British citizen Babar Ahmad to create backup copies of the jihadist Azzam.com Web site when administrators shut down that site after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

In court papers filed in the case, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent contends that "a concerted effort existed between the administrators of Azzam, including Ahmad, and individuals in the U.S. . . . to further the goals of Azzam, that is, to solicit funds for blocked organizations, namely the Taliban and the Chechen Mujahideen, in an effort to support their goals."

Ahmad was swept up in a recent international wave of arrests of suspected al Qaeda operatives, some accused of involvement in scouting financial targets in the United States. Ahmad allegedly possessed classified routes of a 2001 U.S. naval battle group and is believed to be linked to captured al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

Although Mokhtar is not named in the complaint filed by U.S. authorities against Ahmad, a Web site that Mokhtar registered and administered, www.minna.com, is cited.

Helal said Mokhtar wants to cooperate in the probe. He said authorities returned computer files and records to him two weeks after their search, but he believes they have made copies of the material.

Neighbors in Mokhtar's North Brunswick townhouse community said they had seen authorities searching his home earlier this year but knew little of his activities. One said small groups of men dressed in robes occasionally dropped by at night. He described the Mokhtar family as friendly but said they kept their distance.

Nearby, in a working-class area of New Brunswick, about two dozen men filed into the storefront Masjid Al-Huda mosque Wednesday for midday prayers. Imam Abdul Basit, who came from Pakistan three years ago, said Mokhtar occasionally leads the Friday prayers.

"We sometimes invite him to come and give [a] sermon," Basit said. "If we knew from any day that he is saying something bad, we would stop him immediately." But, he said, "I never hear anything bad, only how we can be a good Muslim."

Magdy Mahmoud, president of the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Mokhtar is one of many young men on the lecture circuit, "a wise man in the community, a humble man." Mahmoud said Mokhtar visited several mosques in New Jersey and was not affiliated with just one.

Mahmoud said Mokhtar distinguished himself by the "balanced views" he presented to his audience. "People with radical views don't usually attract large audiences," he said.

Mohamed Younes, president of the America Muslim Union in Paterson N. J, said Mokhtar's lectures there were benign. Compared to others he was much more moderate" Younes said.

-----

MIM: The Council on American Islamic Relations has frequently used the FIE premises for their activities. The Ten Part Course on Islam is an exercise in Da'wa (recruitment of converts) which is a form of cultural Jihad aimed at turning America into the United States of Allah.

CAIR-Philly Offers Ten-Part Course on Islam

(PHILADELPHIA, PA, 6/21/06)– Beginning August 1, the Philadelphia office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philly) will offer a ten-part course on Islam, called "Understanding Islam & Muslims through History and Jurisprudence," at the Foundation for Islamic Education.

This course will approach Islam from a historical and jurisprudence perspective, covering the foundations of the religion and then building on the economic, political and cultural institutions that arose in Muslim societies. It will cover the Golden Age of Muslim civilization and then discuss its decline. Contemporary issues faced by Islam and Muslims will also be covered. A final unit will be the involvement of the U.S. in the Muslim world and its ramifications.

CAIR-Philly has offered the course through multiple educational and interfaith venues, including Mishkan Shalom, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Delaware County, and recently, the Paoli Presbyterian Church. CAIR-Philly Chairman Iftekhar Hussain will lead the course.

WHAT: Course: Understanding Islam & Muslims through History and
Jurisprudence
WHEN: August 1 – 19, 2006, Tuesday and Thursday: 6:30-8:00PM, Saturday:
10:30-12:30PM
WHERE: The Foundation for Islamic Education; 1860 Montgomery Ave;
Villanova, PA
COST: FREE
REGISTER: CAIR-Philadelphia, cairphilly@cairphilly.org
CONTACT: CAIR-Philly: 215-592-0509, E-Mail: cairphilly@cairphilly.org

----------------------------------

CAIR-PHILLY OFFERS PUBLIC SCREENING OF PBS 'MUHAMMAD' DOCUMENTARY

Programs will focus on life and legacy of Islam's Prophet Muhammad

(PHILADELPHIA, PA, 2/16/06)- On Saturday, February 18, the Philadelphia
chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philly), in
conjunction with the Foundation for Islamic Education (FIE), will
sponsor a free public screening of a portion of the PBS documentary
"Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet." Refreshments will be served. Seating is
limited. Please call to make reservations.

WHEN: Saturday, February 18, 2006; 12:00 - 2:15 PM and repeated on
Saturday, February 25, 2006; 4:00 - 6:15 PM.
WHERE: The Foundation for Islamic Education; 1860 Montgomery Ave;
Villanova, PA
CONTACT: CAIR-Philly Communications Director Adeeba Al-Zaman,
215.592.0509, E-Mail: ade...@cairphilly.org; FIE General Manager, Manal
El-Menshawy, 610.520.9624 x234

--------------

[DOC] Foundation for Islamic Education Ready for the summer come and ...

File Format: Microsoft Word - View as HTML
Program Name: 2004 FIE SUMMER CAMP. Chairperson of Program: MANAL EL-MENSHAWY Date:6/28/04 TO 8/20/04. The following information needs to be filled by ...
www.fiesite.org/fie/camp/summer%20camp%203%20(2).doc - Supplemental Result - Similar pages

MIM: The registration for the illegal summer camp in 2004


Ready for the summer come and join our
S u m m e r C a m p

  • WHEN: From June 28 to August 20, 2004


  • REGISTRATION DATE: Last day of registration is June 1, 2004


  • PAYMENT DATES: Program Fees are to be paid on


          June 28, 2004 and July 28, 2004

  • OPTIONS: You may register for one month $400.00


  • AGE: 4 To 12 (must be able to use the bathroom alone)


  • WEEKLY SCHEDULE: Program Schedule is form Monday to Friday every week.


      8:30 to 4:30 daily

      8:30 to 9:00 Breakfast

      9:00 to 9:45 Quran Recitation (according to level)

      9:45 to 10:00 snack

      10:00 to 11:00 Activities

      11:00 to 11:30 Lunch

      11:30 to 12:30 Arabic (according to level)

      12:30 to 1:00 Activities

      1:00 to 1:15 Zuhr Prayer

      1:15 to 2:15 Islamic Studies and or Computer Games

      2:15 to 4:00 Sports Activates, Water Games

      4:00 to 4:30 Aser prayer and clean–up (according to prayer time)

      (Schedule subject to change by administration)

  • JUMMA: On Friday's we will observe Salat Al Jumma.


          • Parents may pick up their children after salat.
          • Parents must sign out the children before leaving.


  • If you have any question, please do not hesitate to contact me at 610-520-9624 ext 234


Thank you

Manal EL-Menshawy

General Manager


Participation Form

Program Name: 2004 FIE SUMMER CAMP

Chairperson of Program: MANAL EL-MENSHAWY Date:6/28/04 TO 8/20/04

The following information needs to be filled by participants in order to enroll in the above program.

Please return the form to: MANAL EL-MENSHAWY Date due: JUNE 1, 2004

Fees are: $800.00 Total Duration of Event: From 8:30 to 4:30

Parents Name: ____________________________________________________________

Child's Name: ___________________________________ Grade: (2004-2005)_________

Address: _________________________________________________________________

Phone: ________________Cell Phone: _________________Email: __________________

In Case of Emergency, may we have permission to take your child to the nearest hospital?

Yes _____ No_____. If No, explain ___________________________________________

My child is allergic to the following: ___________________________________________

Permission Slip:

I, ______________________________ the parent of _________________________ give permission for my child to participate in the above mentioned program.

I am enclosing: $ _____________________ to cover the fees as follows. Check Payable to FIE.

___ June 28, 2004

    1st child $800 for the summer 2nd child $700 for the summer

3RD and up child $600 for the summer

___ July 28, 2004.

By signing below I agree to hold The Foundation for Islamic Educations, The CSC Committee, The Youth Committee, teachers, volunteers, the administration and staff harmless from any claims, liabilities (including but not limited to medical bills as may be incurred on behalf of the participating child), obligations, demands, causes of action, costs and expenses which may be asserted against the Foundation (FIE) by reason of any incident / accident that may occur during this event.

______________________________ __________________

Parent or Guardian signature Date

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