MARGATE (CBS4) –Several South Florida community organizations protested outside of a Margate mosque Tuesday evening. The protesters want the mosque shut down after its’ imam was charged with conspiracy to finance the Taliban.
Izhar Khan, the imam of the Margate mosque, was arrested and charged in May, along with four other family members, including his father, Hafiz Khan, who is also an imam.
Several groups — including the Tea Party, a Boca Raton church and Americans Against Hate — called for the feds to close the mosque while investigators check the mosque’s finances.
“Show us the money,” said Reverend Mark Boykin of Church of All Nations. “Where is the money of this mosque coming from and where is it going?”
Nezar Hamze, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the feds have already searched the mosque’s financial records.
“The books are open to the government obviously,” Hamze said. “The FBI, the U.S. Attorney has already accessed those. If they had any doubt whatsoever about the activity going on in the mosque I’m sure they would be other indictments, and other charges but there’s not.”
Hamze added that the people at the mosque are neither trying to recruit terrorists or fund terrorism.
“Anti-Muslim bigots that’s all it is,” Hamze said. “The only thing people do come here to do — they come here and pray.”
There was at least one friendly discussion of Islam between the two sides. We also saw people on both sides wave American flags, talk about freedoms and clap after singing “America the Beautiful.”
But some of the protesters are convinced things aren’t right at the mosque.
“They are free to worship wherever they want; but if they’re worshiping under a leader who is funding the Taliban, I have concerns as a resident of the city,” said Margate resident Denise Wood.
“Given the mosque’s own extremism and given the mosque’s leaders support for Khan after Khan have provided tens of thousands of dollars to Taliban terrorists, we believe that this mosque, this Margate mosque, should not be able to operate any longer within the State of Florida,” said Joe Kaufman with Americans Against Hate.
Members of the mosque, including Mohammed Sulaman, said the atmosphere around the mosque has changed since Khan’s arrest.
“I think the community was a lot tighter,” Sulaman said. “This brother, Imam Izar is innocent until proven guilty. That’s the stand most of the community takes.”
The Sunni mosque is located at 3222 Holiday Springs Blvd., Margate.