In town hall with mayor, Muslim community cites affordability, transportation as top concerns

About 100 Muslim men and women gathered at a North Austin mosque on Friday night to share with Mayor Steve Adler their concerns about affordability, health care and transportation in the city.

The town hall was held after sundown prayer at the North Austin Muslim Community Center, the fourth meeting this summer in which members were able to engage public officials about the issues facing their community.

People asked how to get more involved in local politics and outreach and in helping the refugee population.

But their main concerns revolved around bettering schools, accessing good health care, making housing more affordable and increasing transportation options.

“We are growing, our community,” said Nusrat Habib, who moved to Austin in 1999 and has been coming to the mosque since then. “Every day it is getting worse and worse. What’s our plan so we can grow our transit system?”

Adler laid out the city’s plans to address their concerns, including investing money in community health, crafting a regional mobility plan and placing a $250 million bond on the November ballot that would boost affordable housing. 

“I am really proud of the work that this city is doing with respect to equity,” Adler said. “There is a long way to go.”

Imam Islam Mossad said the mosque has been working over the past year to get its members more involved in civic life. 

“We are part of the city, and we feel the benefit as well as the difficulties that the city is going through,” Mossad said. “Muslims are just like anybody else, in that they want a safe place for themselves and their families. They want to be able to live in a community that is not only prosperous but also has a quality and services for those in need.”

The meeting, which was scheduled two months ago, came on the heels of three recent vandalism incidents that occurred at the mosque in the past two weeks.

The first incident happened Aug. 29, when someone came through the wooden fence at the mosque and slashed tires on a vehicle.

Then, on Sept. 2, video footage captured a person entering through the wooden fence again and smashing glass doors at the front and side entrances of the mosque. 

And early Thursday, a person who appeared to be the same vandal as in the previous incidents was seen in video footage at the mosque slashing four tires on a van and a vehicle belonging to a security guard.

Austin police say they are investigating the incidents but have not determined whether they will classify them as a hate crimes. 

Adler on Friday night called it a “top priority” for the city.

“I believe that when someone, if anyone, attacks a place of worship it creates a crime and an attack which is greater than just vandalism,” he said. “Oftentimes those kind of attacks are intended to make someone scared, to make an entire community scared. And that elevates that crime.”

No one in the crowd at Friday’s meeting raised any questions about the mosque’s security. But after it finished, Habib and another woman, Taskina Chowdhury, said they were afraid of praying at the mosque.

“It is becoming a safety issue,” Habib said. “We come here to pray and we don’t know what will happen next. It is time now that we should address this issue.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

In upset, GOP’s Flores defeats Democrat Gallego in Texas Senate runoff
In upset, GOP’s Flores defeats Democrat Gallego in Texas Senate runoff

Casting serious doubt on Democratic hopes for a blue wave in Texas, Republican Pete Flores defeated Democrat Pete Gallego in Tuesday’s runoff election for a vacant seat in the state Senate — a seat that had been safely Democratic in previous years. Flores will represent Senate District 19 when the Legislature convenes in January, filling...
Former New Orleans mayor urges fight against resurgent racism
Former New Orleans mayor urges fight against resurgent racism

These are not normal times, former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Tuesday of the Trump presidency, and the way to preserve American values is to confront this abnormality head on, offering as an example the way he and other Louisianans fought the rise of the former Klansman and neo-Nazi David Duke three decades ago when he made his foray into...
Wrong 911 call disrupts trial of man accused in numerous attacks
Wrong 911 call disrupts trial of man accused in numerous attacks

An aggravated sexual assault trial was disrupted Tuesday when Travis County prosecutors inadvertently played the wrong 911 call for the jury and, according to their counterparts at the defense table, violated defendant Nicodemo Coria-Gonzalez’s right to a fair trial. Coria-Gonzalez, 27, is accused of assaulting seven women between December 2015...
Central Health to reconsider budget, hold hearing about ending Sendero
Central Health to reconsider budget, hold hearing about ending Sendero

Within days of being diagnosed with lymphoma, a type of cancer, about a year ago, Austin artist Chia Guillory began treatment. Today, she’s in remission. Guillory was able to receive care immediately, she told the Travis County Commissioners Court on Tuesday, only because of the subsidy she receives from the county’s health district, Central...
Well-known Austin activist Chas Moore charged with assault
Well-known Austin activist Chas Moore charged with assault

Chas Moore, a well-known community activist and director of the Austin Justice Coalition, is being charged with assault, a misdemeanor stemming from a recent altercation at a Sixth Street establishment, his attorney confirmed Tuesday. “It is an unfortunate incident,” lawyer Brian McGiverin said. “I think it is going to be resolved...
More Stories