Saturday, August 16, 2008

Up To 100 Muslims Involved In Mass Chimpout At The Khadeeja Islamic Center In West Valley City, Utah; Four Injured, Three Arrested

On August 16th, 2008, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that four people were injured and three arrested in a fight at a West Valley City Mosque on Friday August 15th that drew about 100 people leaving midday prayers.

The brawl started as worshippers tried to leave the crowded parking lot at the Khadeeja Islamic Center, 1019 W. Parkway Ave., which is one of six mosques operated along the Wasatch Front by the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake (the separate Utah Islamic Center operates its own mosque at 235 W. 9000 South in Sandy). The fight soon spread to others who were leaving. Differing religious views may have escalated the conflict, although one witness believes the fight started over a parking space, since some cars were double-parked. A newer Deseret News story confirms the dispute was over a parking space.

More than 100 people were still at the scene when police arrived at 2:30 p.m. Friday, and fighting was in various pockets. The Friday midday prayers in observance of the Muslim Sabbath routinely draw the largest weekly crowds to the mosque. About 500 to 600 people typically attend Friday services.

The fight started with a conflict between 27-year-old Joseph Saif and a juvenile, as the crowded parking lot emptied. Saif had a box cutter, and another man, 23-year-old Mohammed Afribi drew a knife to defend the juvenile, starting the fight. A total of four people suffered minor wounds and were treated at the scene. Saif, Afribi, and the juvenile were arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault. The two adults were booked into the Salt Lake County jail while the juvenile was taken to a juvenile detention center.

This is not the first time Muslims have been associated with violence in Utah, although it is rare. Soljo Talovic, the father of Sulejman Talovic who murdered six people in the Trolley Square Massacre in February 2007, was a fighter in Bosnia and a member of the Noor mosque in Salt Lake City. Soljo tried to whitewash what his son had done.

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