On Tuesday evening the city council of St Anthony, Minnesota, a Twin Cities suburb, rejected plans to locate an Islamic center in the basement of a building that was once the headquarters of medical device manufacturer Medtronic, according to a story in the Star Tribune and the Wikipedia entry for the city. A dozen residents rose in protest against it, many making negative remarks about Islam, despite the efforts of the mayor to deflect such comments. Although the four council members voting against the application from the Abu-Huraira Islamic Center asserted that their decision was strictly based on land-use rules, such an argument is obviously absurd. If the program planned by the small (200 members) congregation is unsuited to the facility, the landlord could be counted on to decline the offered lease. But if the landlord needing to rent out the rest of the building saw no problem with this use of a 15,000 square foot space in the basement, it’s hardly likely that anyone else has any valid problem either.
Sadly, it’s been many years since I was last surprised by bigotry, even among the normally level-headed sort you expect to find living in Minnesota. What is still surprising is to see presumably intelligent people not only hold such reprehensible opinions but to express them in public with the media present. Even If I Were King there’s nothing to be done, now that beheading is out of fashion.