MIAMI – A man fighting the opening of a mosque in his suburban neighborhood filed a lawsuit Tuesday to try and halt construction, a move derided by Arab leaders as anti-Muslim.
Rodney Wright, who is Christian, claims the relocation of the Islamic Center of South Florida to a new, larger building in his Pompano Beach neighborhood "presents a substantial harm to the well-being, safety and health" of the community.
The lawsuit claims the leader of the mosque, Imam Hassan Sabri, has repeatedly been associated with others who are tied to terrorist groups including Hamas, Al Qaeda and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The connections outlined in the filing appear loose and there is no accusation of direct wrongdoing.
Sabri has not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing and neither he nor his mosque have been the target of any publicized investigation. The imam did not return a call seeking comment.
Larry Klayman, the attorney for Wright, said the filing does not amount to an anti-Muslim action but maintained that the mosque sacrificed public safety.
"The mosque is radical, the imam is radical," Klayman said. "We believe they will go out and recruit people in the African-American community to do their bidding."
Klayman would not make his client available for questions and a message left at a telephone listing for Wright was not immediately returned.
"I'm very much disturbed that in this day and age you'd find people going to such extreme measures to prevent a house of worship from being built in any American city," said Altaf Ali, executive director of the South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. "I look at this as an act of religious intimidation."
Besides the lawsuit's terrorism claims, it makes more routine complaints, including that prayer meetings could cause substantial traffic and taxpayers will be forced to foot the bill for increased infrastructure and police protection.
The Islamic Center of South Florida has been in Pompano Beach, about 30 miles north of Miami, for more than 20 years. Klayman became well-known after founding the conservative, Washington-based watchdog group Judicial Watch in 1994 which, at its outset, primarily targeted Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Klayman also has brought cases against Dick Cheney, Usama bin Laden, Fidel Castro and the Teamsters, as well as his own mother.