The Muslim organization behind a vast new $22 million mosque in Roxbury received a double blow yesterday after an Islamic scholar accused its leaders of tolerating “hateful views” and a city councilor ordered a probe into how the group acquired a choice piece of Hub-owned land at a bargain rate.
Councilor Jerry P. McDermott (D-Brighton), vice chairman of the Post Audit and Oversight Committee, ordered city officials to explain why a 1.9-acre parcel along Malcolm X Boulevard, conservatively valued at $401,187, was sold to the Islamic Society of Boston for $175,000 and “in-kind benefits” to Roxbury Community College.
The Herald reported last week that the land deal is the subject of a lawsuit asserting that it represents an unconstitutional government subsidy of a religion: Islam.
“We want a full accounting by the end of the month,” McDermott said. “If they can afford a $22 million mosque, why can’t they pay fair-market value for the land?”
Boston Redevelopment Authority officials said they could not comment due to the litigation.
Also yesterday, a Muslim-American scholar joined the growing chorus of voices urging the Islamic Society’s leadership to disavow any connections to radical Islam.
At a press conference sponsored by Citizens for Peace and Tolerance (www.hatefreeamerica.com), Dr. Ahmed Subhy Mansour, an Egyptian-born political refugee once jailed there for defending moderate Islamic causes, said “I am here to testify that this radical culture is here inside this society.”
Mansour, a former visiting fellow at Harvard Law School, said he went to the society’s current headquarters in Cambridge a year ago and discovered “Arabic-language newsletters filled with hateful statements against the United States.” He also said the center’s library housed books and videos “representing fanatical beliefs that insult other people’s religions.”