Members of a small Muslim community in Culpeper Couny, Virginia, bought land where they plan to build the county's first mosque -- but the county board denied them a permit, saying the site doesn't meet requirements.
A group of locals that has grown to more than 20 members seeks to create the Islamic Center of Culpeper (ICC). The group began meeting in 2011, first in a train station and then in a small home next to a member's car dealership.
"It was really small and like a family, and it's still like that," member Dr. Nabeel Babar said.
As the size of the group grows, members want a proper prayer space. They recently closed on a property off Rixeyville Road with an abandoned house surrounded by weeds.
But on April 5 the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors denied the ICC's request for a sewage system permit. A roomful of Culpeper County residents cheered, the Culpeper Star-Exponent reported.
In a 4-3 vote, the board denied the ICC a pump-and-haul permit for a septic system, in which waste is directed to a tank and then pumped out by a septic tank cleaner. Board members said they rejected the permit out of compliance with the law, the newspaper reported.
But in the past 20 years, the county has rejected only 1 out of 19 similar permits in the past 20 years, the Star-Exponent reported.
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Member Mohammad Nawabe said he is seeking to live and worship side by side with his neighbors.
"This is my right. I'm trying to protect my right too," he said.
News4 reached out to the four supervisors who denied the ICC's permit request. Three supervisors responded, but only one agreed to an on-camera interview. An hour before that interview was set to occur, the supervisor canceled.
Members of the ICC will press forward with their plan to create the center and may reach out to the Department of Justice.
A neighbor of the abandoned house, Reggie Massie, said the construction of the mosque was OK with him.
"Doesn't bother me at all. I'm open to it," he said.