Residents sound off against Virginia Beach’s first mosque

Posted at 11:37 PM, Sep 24, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-25 06:20:48-04

Virginia Beach, Va. - Bill DeSteph doesn't want a mosque to be built on Salem Road.

"But you are saying this organization that wants to start a mosque in Virginia Beach is ill intentioned?" DeSteph was asked.

"I'm saying follow the money. There are ties to the Muslim Brotherhood," Councilman DeSteph said. "Follow the money."

DeSteph claims the planned Crescent Community Center mosque has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, even though earlier in our interview he wouldn't go that far.

"So this organization has terrorist ties in your opinion?" DeSteph was asked.

"I'm not saying that. I'm saying follow the money," DeSteph responded.

DeSteph says his role as a city councilman limited what he could say publicly, so he let Scott Saunders with the group act for Virginia Beach, be his in de facto spokesperson.

"We are concerned that the mosque will be used for the purposes of furthering the objectives of the brotherhood," Saunders said.

They had objections, even though they admittedly have no concrete proof.

"We can't confirm that there's a direct tie between Crescent Community and the Muslim Brotherhood, but we're working on it," Saunders said.

Tuesday's council meeting started out civil, with a rabbi giving an opening prayer about acceptance. His message went in one ear and out the other for most of the crowd.

Neighbors of the soon-to-be built mosque talked about traffic concerns, then one man decided to be more direct with his opposition.

"To stand here and talk about road usage, and not talk about the fundamental issue, we do not want mosques in Virginia Beach," one meeting-goer said as the crowd reached its crescendo.

The attorney for the mosque, Eddie Bourdon, made a rebuttal, not holding anything back, and calling the opposition ignorant. His comments were not surprisingly met with boos.

City Council passed the land-use application for the mosque 9-1 citing that while it is an unpopular decision in many people's eyes, federal and state law prevents them from discriminating against a religious organization's land-use application.