The Temecula City Council voted 4 to 0 Wednesday to allow about 150 Muslim families to build a mosque after months of angry debate over the plan. Opponents say that the Islamic Center of Temecula could bring extremist activity and traffic woes to the region in Riverside County, about 80 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The Islamic Center was formed in 1998, and its members have been worshiping in a warehouse. The group plans to build a 25,000-square-foot mosque.

After an eight-hour hearing that didn’t wrap up until 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, the council approved the mosque by unanimous vote. It did so after City Atty. Peter Thorson warned council members that they had to base their decision on such mundane municipal concerns as the project’s environmental impact or compliance with zoning rules, not on whether they approve of Islam. To do otherwise, Thorson pointed out, would be to violate the 1st Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of religion.

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