SPOTSYLVANIA, Va. – Muslim leaders were harassed with bigoted insults as they presented a plan at a public meeting to build a new mosque, in Spotsylvania, Virginia.
Several instigators were removed from a public meeting when it was clear they would not stop harassing the speaker.
The local Islamic community has outgrown their building of worship and would like to build a bigger mosque on nearby land they own.
A man whose jacket was adorned with an eagle -- its flag-painted wings in flight -- first stood up and began shouting hostile comments.
“What we looking at this, this is evil.”
“It was almost like a mob thing,” said Samer Shalaby in an interview with WUSA9. “They were pointing fingers, they were waving arms.”
Shalaby, a civil engineer and business owner, was giving a presentation for his religious organization when he was shouted down. He is a trustee of the Islamic Center of Fredericksburg, an organization which has been there for nearly 30 years.
WARNING: This video contains offensive content.
Another man stood up, and amid claps and agreement from others in the audience, began shouting at Shalaby.
“I will do everything in my power to make sure that does not happen, because you are terrorists,” a man said. “Every single one of you is a terrorist. I don’t care what you say.”
“You can smile at me, you can say what you want, but every Muslim is a terrorist,” he can be heard saying emphatically, in video filmed by Munira Salim Abdalla and shared with CBS affiliates WUSA9.
“Shut your mouth, I don’t want to hear your mouth,” he continued. “Everything that I can do to keep you from doing what you're doing will happen.”
That is when a Sheriff’s Deputy ended the meeting.
The woman who filmed the video and was seen on the front page of the The Free Lance-Star, said “it was horrible, really horrible to be called a terrorist.”
She is the chief administrator for the Islamic Ummah of Fredericksburg,
“It is so sad that people are so ignorant, and unfortunately I understand their fear, all of us have fear, including the Muslims," Abdalla said. “Because the people who did what they did are not Muslims.”
Some were concerned that people at the Mosque would take in refugees from Syria.
“Why did your great grandparents come here? Because of religious persecution and that’s exactly what you are doing to us," Abdalla said. “We try to do everything nice to please God, to please humanity."
Shalaby said parents are now afraid to send their children to Sunday school at the center because of the threats made at Tuesday night's meeting.
After WUSA and other organizations reported on the hateful attacks, the Islamic Center began to receive messages of support
"We have been getting emails, text messages, my phone is beeping all the time [with] people apologizing," Abdalla said to WUSA.
“It has been overwhelming support,” Shalaby said in an interview with reporter Brian Murphy, for the Fredericksburg paper. “Local friends, strangers, people I have never met call me and text me. It’s very humbling and very nice.”