Free Markets, Free People

Restaurant And Mosque Uneasy Neighbors

While some may want to make this a story about “Islam”, it’s not really. It is a pretty standard story in which some who disagree with what others choose to do, although perfectly legal, attempt to pressure the law to have their belief imposed on others use of their property.

The story:

On one side of the disagreement is a Muslim mosque, and some of its worshippers are unhappy about plans for a new restaurant that will serve alcohol.

On the opposing end of the clash is a business owner who says he’s invested $1 million to upgrade a blighted building and has tried to accommodate Muslim worshippers during spiritual holidays.

The two entities – The Hill restaurant and the Anoor mosque – are a mere 191 feet apart.

According to the local law they should be at least 300 feet apart for the establishment to get a beer and wine license. As it turns out, front door to front door they’re probably pretty close to that distance. But the distance is arbitrary anyway. And really, it’s not about the distance, it is about the desire to control behavior. The distance just gives cause to that desire.

The possibility that the restaurant could serve as a local drinking hangout bothers mosque attendees like board member Nadeem Sidiqqi.

Islam prohibits the consumption of alcohol, but Sidiqqi said the protest isn’t an attack on drinking in general, just a call for buffer zones for religious establishments.

“People may say ‘we may not want to go to this mosque’ if it’s not a good environment,” Sidiqqi said. “You want an area where you can bring your kids or your family.”

Sure are a whole lot of assumptions going on in those three paragraphs, aren’t there? And you’d like to believe this isn’t really about “drinking in general”, but obviously it is. Otherwise, there’d be no call for a buffer zone, would there?

As you’ll see in the story, as you read it, the mosque is in a walled in court yard, and the restaurant has taken a building which was a neighborhood eyesore and rehabilitated it. The restaurant owner seems willing to accommodate the mosque during its holidays.

But the petition signing continues. Because, you see, those on the one side want those on the other side to do what they believe is the right thing, even though there’s nothing wrong with what the other guys want to do nor is there any evidence that what they want to do will have an effect on the others.

As it turns out, it probably won’t matter anyway. Apparently if the state of Tennessee grants the restaurant a liquor license, the 300 foot requirement is waived (again showing you how arbitrary and meaningless the number is).

Of course, my guess is, that won’t sit well with the other bunch, and, unfortunately, this is just the beginning of the attempts to shut the restaurant down.

Oh, the location? Knoxville, TN – trust me the fact it is a mosque and not a church is only a matter of random circumstance. But it does point out that as much the cultural landscape is changes, it really remains pretty much the same.


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2 Responses to Restaurant And Mosque Uneasy Neighbors

  • The nerve of anyone not to kowtow to the dirtbags, er, Muslims!

    How dare they! What kind of country is this when poor Muslims can not be able to dictate what the rest of us do?

  • The 300-foot buffer only counts, apparently, if it’s about a city beer license, but if an establishment gets a state liquor license then it’s home free, apparently. So the buffer ordinance is in effect, unless it’s not. That’s a crappy way of doing business by government.

    I don’t have a problem per se with a 300-foot church-bar buffer, but the regs here are ambiguous.

    My many years in NYC included a fairly serious battle with a bar that opened a backyard drinking-dining area, over which my building, with three wings around a center court, sat like an amphitheatre. I not only got a hundred conversations at full volume, I got each conversation.

    I’m an old fan of bars when drinking in them; not a big fan living next to one.  The moral of the story is that once the lines of acceptable-unacceptable got drawn, everyone got along, but it required the bar owner to shut down the back garden (for which he had no permit, and that is most certainly a big deal in NYC, where lots of residential buildings sit over street-level commercial spaces, and you need to know where you are and who it will effect when you try to open something like that). NYC, to say the least, presents a unique set of circumstances.