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Elections supervisor removes Boca Raton mosque as polling site

July 09,2016 10:11

Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, a Democrat running to be re-elected for the nonpartisan position, wrote in an email Friday to the Sun Sentinel that she is changing a polling location from the Islamic Center of Boca Raton to the nearby Spanish ...



Palm Beach County's elections supervisor is moving a polling station from a Boca Raton mosque to a public library.Some have complained about voting in a mosque, but the Islamic center's president says the decision is discriminatory against Muslims.
Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, a Democrat running to be re-elected for the nonpartisan position, wrote in an email Friday to the Sun Sentinel that she is changing a polling location from the Islamic Center of Boca Raton to the nearby Spanish River Library.She did not elaborate or respond to a request for further comment.

Bassem Alhalabi, president of the mosque, said it was Bucher's idea to make the mosque a polling location, but she told him in a recent phone call she reversed her decision amid opposition. He said Bucher told him she had received about 50 phone calls raising concern about the mosque.Alhalabi said citizen complaints shouldn't warrant a change. The list of polling sites in Palm Beach County includes Christian churches and Jewish synagogues."This is not democratic," Alhalabi said. "If Muslims are good to vote in a church and a synagogue, then Christian and Jews are also good to vote in an Islamic center."County Commissioner Steven Abrams, a Republican who represents the area, learned about residents' concerns of the mosque being used as a voting site.
He said it’s Bucher’s decision and it’d be up to her to explain it.Alhalabi said his mosque, at 3480 NW Fifth Ave., has dealt with accusations it is radical, but he said that's not the case. He said the mosque routinely opens its doors to people of all faiths.Alhalabi is a professor of computer science and engineering at Florida Atlantic University.In 2011, a group of 50 gathered in a protest at the FAU campus and demanded that Alhalabi be fired, accusing him of having terrorist ties. But the university issued a statement backing Alhalabi, and counter-demonstrators supported him. A group of about 100 FAU students and employees showed up. They said Alhalabi was a victim of Islam-bashing.Alhalabi said he had hoped that opening the mosque to the community would foster better relations between Muslims and other faiths.sswisher@sunsentinel.com, 561-243-6634 or @SkylerSwisher

Islamic Center of Boca Raton,Susan Bucher,Bassem Alhalabi,

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