An overflow crowd packed the meeting room where the Fairfax County Planning Commission met late Wednesday evening to discuss expansion of the Islamic Saudi Academy site at Popes Head Road in Fairfax County.
Wearing "I Support ISA" badges, supporters of this controversial academy jammed almost every seat in an obviously orchestrated attempt to show support for this institution.
In recent years, textbooks at the Academy have been found to containing religious intolerance as well as anti-Semitic, anti-American writing. A 1999 valedictorian of the school was indicted on terrorism charges and just last year, the director of the Academy was arrested for failure to report a child abuse investigation and obstruction of justice.
The meeting room was so packed the fire marshall had to eject those without a seat into the outside lobby to watch the proceedings on closed circuit TV. Many opposed to the planned expansion request by the Academy were rightfully concerned about not being guaranteed an opportunity to speak before the Commission.
Though the meeting began at 8:15 p.m., the topic of the ISA expansion did not get underway until close to 10 p.m. due to two other items of business. By the time public comments began, 35 people had signed up for public comments.
ISA supporters were unruly, jeering James Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition as he brought up the topic of intolerance of the Academy textbooks and laughed when Andrea Lafferty mentioned how the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis. They loudly cheered Commissioner Janet Hall as she made a point in the institution's favor, rebutting concerns of a resident who lives near the school.
Springfield District Commissioner Peter Murphy Jr., showing himself to be an obnoxious jerk in the vain of "Jihad" Gerry Connolly, accused Mrs. Lafferty (without any proof) of distributing flyers with the Traditional Values Coalition address in area mailboxes.
Most residents who spoke before the 11:30 p.m. recess expressed opposition to the expansion, saying the road is already overcrowded and were also concerned about the quality of life. One resident stated there are two to three accidents a month near where they live. Others noted the houses in the area are on a septic waste system, with well water. They were concerned of the impact the expansion on the septic and well water systems.
Denise Lee, a local realtor, resident and member of ACT for America, brought up the traffic and quality of life concerns, as well as the stories of religious intolerance in textbooks and the arrest of the school director last year, as reasons for opposing the expansion of the Saudi Academy.
Virginia House of Delegates Member Tim Hugo, who represents the area, gave a letter earlier to the commission where the State of Virginia said the Popes Head Road area did not need anymore traffic, as a request for a scenic byway was recently denied for that reason.