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Muslim Man Harassed Over Mosque In Warren (January 19, 2007)

Steve Elturk knows there could be some backlash when he opens Warren's first mosque later this year. He learned Wednesday he may not have to wait that long.
Elturk was at the mosque — the Islamic Organization of North America, on Ryan south of 12 Mile — about 8:15 p.m. when a man started shouting racial epithets at him.
"He was standing by the sign, and he said he was going to desecrate the sign," Elturk of Troy said Thursday. "He said, 'I hate you. I hate Muslims.' "
Elturk said the man took off a jacket and moved toward him in a "threatening way." The man, Terry E. Brown, 37, of Warren, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. He pleaded guilty Thursday and was sentenced to 21 days in the Macomb County Jail, Warren police said.
Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he will ask the county Prosecutor's Office to file an ethnic intimidation charge. "In light of the circumstances … we're going to ask that the man be charged with a hate crime," Walid said.
Jim Langtry, the prosecutor's chief of operations, said the office doesn't condone Brown's behavior — "It was deplorable," he said. But, he added, Brown was too drunk to form a specific intent to intimidate Elturk.
Elturk, a native of Lebanon, has faced plenty of opposition to the mosque project. At a planning commission meeting in May, he was asked to prove that his group did not have ties to terrorist organizations. He also found broken glass and encountered other vandalism in the back of the building last summer.
The Justice Department sent a letter to Warren officials last April, informing them that it was monitoring the situation.
Elturk, who was working inside the building when Brown arrived, hopes to open the mosque next month. He said he's planning an open house for nearby residents when the building is complete.
Contact DAN CORTEZ at 586-469-1827 or dcortez@freepress.com.