By Ted Scouten


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BOCA RATON CBSMIAMI) — Bassem Alhalabi and everyone at the Islamic Center of Boca Raton was thrilled to learn that, for the first time, they had been chosen as polling place for upcoming elections but that did not last long.

“We really wanted this. We were very, very excited. We were planning how to serve cold water, how to serve refreshments. Even we ask can we serve lunches and she said, ‘no, no no’…just refreshments,” said Alhalabi.

Alhalabi said the Palm Beach Supervisor of elections said she got some threatening anonymous complaints – then moved the polling place to a nearby library.

“I feel so betrayed. I feel so insignificant. She wanted us to shine then she said no you can’t do that.  It would have been much better that she never asked us,” said Alhalabi.

Alhalabi is getting some unlikely support.

“The people that complained, either they have no idea of what they’re talking about or they’re just bigoted, prejudice against all Muslims,” said Rabbi Barry Silver.

Rabbi Silver is from Congregation L’Dor Va’Dor. He’s also a civil rights attorney.

“I don’t like the heckler’s veto. I don’t like because some people who might be intolerant or ignorant call up and complain, that the supervisor of elections should change a polling place based on those few people,” said Silver.

Alhalabi votes at a Catholic Church near his home. He had hoped to welcome voters to the mosque and return the kindness he gets when he votes

“Actually we met a lot of people there in the church, especially my wife and daughters wear the scarfs.  They say welcome.  They welcome us. They were very nice people. We made new friends in the church,”  Alhalabi said.

There’s another project between the two just down the road.  Next week, members of the mosque will be going over to Rabbi Silver’s synagogue so they can talk about Islamaphobia.

Ted Scouten

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