Thursday, 1 July 2010

‘What kind of America’? Hate-filled rally to stop mosque

If they build it, they will bomb.

Angry Sheepshead Bay residents came out in a show of force on Sunday to protest a planned mosque and Muslim community center in their neighborhood.

“If they build a mosque there, I’m going to bomb the mosque,” said one outraged resident who lives across the street from the proposed house of worship between East 28th and East 29th streets on Voorhies Avenue. The resident, who refused to give his name, identified himself as a former Israeli soldier who had lived on Voorhies Avenue for eight years.

“I will give them a lot of trouble,” he added. “They’re not going to stay here alive.”

Such comments were certainly the most violent, though intolerance was common at the rally, which was organized by the group Bay People. Political correctness was shoved aside as members of the group put out its agenda: We don’t want a mosque here.

There was plenty of lip service paid to concerns about added traffic and noise, with rally organizers saying that they were not “anti-Arab or anti-Muslim,” but the stench of hate filled the air, sometimes with subtle language.

“We cannot tolerate foreign interests coming into our backyard telling us what we are going to do,” said speaker Bob Giovinazzi. “It’s hot today, but things are going to get a lot hotter for people in this illegal structure.”

One of the organizers claimed that the mosque protest was simply about “this specific location and a specific organization [and its] impact on our quality of life.” The organizer, who only gave his surname, Kleinman, added, “We are not against our Muslim neighbors. This is a residential community and we want to preserve it regardless of race and religion.”

But other organizers claimed that the mosque’s builders, the Muslim American Society has ties to Hamas and Hezbollah. Though few actual links were revealed at the rally, that didn’t stop the venom.

“New York is not Islamabad,” and Diana, a nurse who refused to give her full name. “Do not forget 9-11!”

Voorhies Avenue resident Victor Benari further whipped up the audience by adding, “Each Muslim terrorist is tied to a mosque.”

He also took pot shots at Ahmed Allowey, the longtime Sheepshead Bay resident who is bringing the mosque to Voorhies Avenue, along with local politicians who have remained mum on this divisive issue.

None were present to defend themselves, although Benari’s diatribe infuriated local resident Guseyn Ibragimov.

“What right do you have to deny people a place of worship?” asked Ibragimov, whose father is a Muslim. His mother is half-Jewish, half-Christian. “No one protests a church or a synagogue being built in a Muslim neighborhood.”

Rally attendees booed Ibragimov down, ordering him to get off their street.

“This isn’t right, they’re just showing their hate,” Ibragimov said as he stormed off. “They call themselves Americans, but what kind of America is this?”


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