Some crazy comments by ill informed and ignorant people about Islam and a proposed Mosque that will be built in their neighborhood.
Racial and religious tensions are flaring in Sheepshead Bay over plans to build a mosque on a residential street.
Opponents say the mosque will lead to traffic and noise problems – but their complaints are littered with anti-Islamic attacks, like one letter to elected officials that said “mosques and Muslim schools preach hatred.”
“There’s a safety issue here. I don’t want my kids walking past it,” said Kathy Cash, 38, a mother of three children who attend Public School 52 around the corner on E. 29th St. “It’s disgusting,” said Cash, “they [Muslims] have no respect.”
“My children are scared and I am too,” said Victor Benari, 56, trying to rally neighbors against the mosque during a civic group meeting on Monday. “This is a security issue.”
The hysterical language startled officials from the mosque, who say their neighbors have no reason to worry.
“It saddens us very much to see our neighbors already agitated about these things,” said Allowey Ahmed, 60, who owns the property and is spearheading the project.
“Our neighbors are very important. We cannot be good Muslims unless we have good relations with our neighbors,” said the native of Yemen who moved to Sheepshead Bay in 1997.
Besides the prayer hall, the project will include a community center with youth programs for the growing number of Arabic-speaking families in Sheepshead Bay.
Other opponents distanced themselves from the hateful language some of their neighbors used.
“I don’t agree with how they presented us. I don’t have a problem with it being a mosque,” said Grigory Kalman, 54, a computer programmer who lives on E. 28th St.
Still, he’s fighting the project because he says it will be noisy and make traffic chaotic on the block.
“This is a quiet residential street, but who knows how bad it will become,” said Kalman.
To calm fears, Ahmed said the Muslim center will not broadcast the daily call to prayer heard at other mosques five times a day.
“We are keen to not disturb the neighbors,” he said.
Councilman Lew Fidler (D-Sheepshead Bay) denounced the stereotyping by the project’s foes.
“I understand they’re uncomfortable. Our emotions are so high and our concerns for safety are so real,” Fidler said, “but to suggest that any mosque that is going to be built is a haven for terrorism or a pulpit for hate before they even build the foundation is simply just over the top.”
Construction is currently stalled because the city Buildings Department rejected plans for a 4-story structure in August, but Ahmed said work would begin “in a couple of months.”