A holy war is brewing in Virginia, where a controversial Islamic school is seeking permission to expand its campus and a group of residents is going all out to stop it.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing Monday night to consider a proposal to expand the campus of the Islamic Saudi Academy, a Saudi-owned college preparatory school.
Critics of the plan point to former students of the school who have been convicted in a plot to assassinate former President Bush, and more recently, arrested for trying to board an airplane with a seven-inch kitchen knife.
And others say they oppose the move to expand the school for one reason only:
“We’re opposed to the operation of the Islamic Saudi Academy because it teaches and practices Shariah law,” said James Lafferty, chairman of the Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force (VAST). “Shariah law is anti-constitutional and we feel that it is the ultimate improper land use here in the state where the Constitution was created.”
Lafferty said his organization is a coalition with roughly 10 other groups that oppose the land-use expansion. By teaching Shariah law, Lafferty says, the school replaces the U.S. Constitution with a “very backward and barbaric” rule of law.
“Shariah law advocates rights via gender and religion,” Lafferty told FOXNews.com. “They allocate rights by gender and religion. If you are a male who is Islamic, you have rights. If you’re not, you have no rights.”
Founded in 1984, the Islamic Saudi Academy seeks to “enable students to excel academically while maintaining the values of Islam and proficiency with the Arabic language,” according to its Web site.
Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, the school’s valedictorian in 1999, was convicted in November 2005 of joining Al Qaeda and plotting to assassinate President Bush. He was later sentenced to 30 years in prison.
More recently, Raed Abdul-Rahman Al-Saif, who reportedly graduated from the school in 2003, was arrested last month at a Florida airport when he allegedly tried to board a plane while in possession of a seven-inch kitchen knife.
Details of the proposed expansion remained unclear, but the proposal seeks to expand the school’s grounds from 20 acres to 34, county officials told FOXNews.com. Calls to the school were not immediately returned.
Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity announced at the beginning of Monday night’s hearing that no vote would be taken and that the record would be kept open to allow comment from those not in attendance.
Any vote on the proposal will occur — at the earliest — during the scheduled next board meeting on Aug. 3, Merni Fitzgerald, director of public affairs for Fairfax County, told FOXNews.com late Monday.
A total of 46 people have indicated they plan to speak during Monday’s hearing, Fitzgerald said.