Despite threats targeting a Richmond mosque that led to the arrest of a local man last month, representatives of the Islamic Society of West Contra Costa County reiterated Tuesday that doors to the local worship center remain open daily for any community member with questions about Islam.
Iman Hamza Mehter spoke during public comment session at City Council Tuesday night, which unanimously passed a resolution opposing hate crimes and discrimination based upon Islamophobic views.
Mehter (pictured below) remained consistent in his message that the recent threats against the Masjid Al Rahman mosque at 1110 36th St., along with other reported hate crimes targeting Muslims in the Bay Area, would be used to create love and understanding in the community rather than fear.
“I would just like the Councilmembers to know as well as the community here, that Islam doesn’t stand for what people are calling it to be,” Mehter said. “We believe in the right to peace, justice and equality. These were the principles that our prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, stood for. As we saw on the night of Dec. 24th, when the community came out [to a community Love Splash event at the Richmond mosque], all are welcome to our center, and to all of our centers they are always open. Those who have questions or concerns about Islam, in any part of the community, we always welcome everybody. The doors are open on a daily basis, there’s no need for an appointment. I ask everybody to look into what Islam really stands for.”
Tuesday’s resolution was spearheaded by Councilmembers Jovanka Beckles and Eduardo Martinez and was a response to an increase in reports of hate crimes against Muslims following a number of terror attacks, most notably in Paris. The resolution was particularly responding to the actions of 55-year-old Richmond resident William Celli (pictured below), who was arrested in early December following reports that he went to the Richmond mosque and threatened to kill all of its members.
After Celli reportedly posted an image of a homemade pipe bomb to social media, authorities went to his McBryde Avenue home, where a device was detonated by a bomb squad. The device was not armed with explosives at the time, police said.
Following Celli’s arrest, community members gathered for a Love Splash at the mosque on Dec. 24 in a grand show of support for local Muslims.
On Tuesday, Councilmember Martinez also requested, with support from colleagues on the council, that Celli be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The above image was publicly posted to social media last month by a mosque member at the Islamic Society of West Contra Costa County.