Just finished reading David Bernstein’s excellent piece in this week’s Boston Phoenix on the long-controversial mosque that’s been built in Roxbury, known as the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. Among other things, Bernstein reports the following:
- Originally intended as a spiritual center primarily for U.S.-born African-American Muslims, the center’s control shifted long ago to conservative Muslims primarily from the Middle East, some of whom have espoused homophobic and anti-Semitic views.
- Despite numerous financial difficulties, the project was pushed along at key moments by Mayor Tom Menino and a staff member at the Boston Redevelopment Authority who had a conflict of interest that almost certainly should have led him to recuse himself.
- Promised benefits to the community have not materialized, and are unlikely to any time soon given the mosque’s ongoing financial problems.
- Former state senator Dianne Wilkerson and Boston city councilor Chuck Turner, charged by federal authorities with taking bribes, have showed an unusual degree of interest in the mosque.
The mosque has been 20 years in the making, and is still incomplete. A fascinating story, even though there are more questions in Bernstein’s story than there are answers.