Protesters For And Against Brooklyn Mosque Converge on Sheepshead Bay

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A young girl joined other supporters of a proposed mosque (WNYC/Arun Venugopal)

About 120 demonstrators gathered in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, to protest a proposed mosque that opponents argue will dramatically alter the quality of life in the neighborhood. The protest, organized by about 80 supporters of the mosque, was within shouting distance of a counter-protest and drew locals and nationally prominent critics of Islam.

"These people are entitled to their neighborhood!" thundered Pamela Geller, founder of Stop the Islamization of America and the leading organizer against the Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero known as Park 51. "Why put it here? There are hundreds of mosques in this city, there are thousands of mosques in this country. Why here?"

The competing, often raucous protests, were closely monitored by police. Geller was joined by her partner, blogger Robert Spencer, who responded to the mosque supporters' cries of "Shame on you!" from across the street by raising doubts about the project's backers.

"Yes, shame on you! You are carrying water for the most repressive ideology on earth," said Spencer. "The Muslim American Society is building this mosque. Do you know what the Muslim American Society is?"

The group, he said, traced its roots to the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that earlier espoused violence as a means of carrying out its political agenda but has officially renounced extremism.

"The Muslim Brotherhood is dedicated in its own words to eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within, and sabotaging its miserable house," said Spencer, addressing opponents and supporters of the mosque from the top of a stoop. "You are enabling them in their project by allowing them to build a mosque here or anywhere. The problem is not mosques, the problem is the Muslim American Society."

The demonstration was organized by a local group, Bay People, which argues that a mosque would create traffic congestion in the neighborhood. The group also worries that the mosque would broadcast the call to prayer outside.

But Allowey Ahmed, who is developing the mosque, said that the call would not be broadcast outside, out of sensitivity to neighbors, most of whom are non-Muslim. And he has argued that the congregation of about 150 families will not generate much traffic, in part because most worshipers would arrive on foot.

The counter-protest, attended by dozens of young Muslim children and sign-toting teenagers, was organized by the NYC Coalition to Stop Islamophobia, a group that formed last summer in response to the controversy over Park 51. In promoting the demonstration online, organizers argued that opposition to the mosque "comes at a time when the Peter King hearings [on Islamic extremism] have caused more fear-mongering throughout the country!"

Indicating that mosque opponents weren't the only ones with prominent allies, Imam Shamsi Ali, one of the city's most well-known Muslim leaders, spoke up for the Muslim American Society, saying it encourages its youth to integrate into the mainstream and avoid going down the extremist path.

"Their activities are very much American," said Ali. "Culturally, it's very much American. Probably the girls are covering their head, but they're Americans. They want to lead their lives as Americans, and this is what Americans should understand."

Although Bay People has sued to stop construction of the mosque, supporters are confident the project will go forward.

And in response to David Storobin, a Brooklyn GOP party official who said the mosque's backers "are refusing to condemn terrorism," Ahmed appeared resigned.

"I don't know what is required of us to do, but of course we denounce terrorism," said Ahmed. "Everyone denounces terrorism. We are the first ones to suffer from terrorism. We are the ones who are labeled terrorists."

WNYC/Arun Venugopal
A young girl joined other supporters of a proposed mosque
WNYC/Arun Venugopal
Across the street, an opponent warned against the threat of Islamic extremism
Activist and educator Debbie Almontaser speaks to supporters of the mosque
Blogger and activist Pamela Geller, who led the drive against Park 51, addresses opponents
Opponents, in the foreground, and supporters of a Sheepshead Bay mosque traded cries of "Shame on you!" as police officers watched. The mosque would be located behind the wooden planks in the back.
WNYC/Arun Venugopal
Opponents of the planned mosque argue that prayers will spill out onto the sidewalk
WNYC/Arun Venugopal
Muslim supporters were joined by members of other religions


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Comments [14]

so what happen finally? did they build a mosque or they couldnt...? just wondering

Jun. 10 2012 09:34 PM
REAL American


Jan. 16 2012 04:24 AM

My name is Noor and I am the new liaison between the Muslim and non-Muslim community in Sheepshead Bay. Up to this time we have not had the funding to have a proper Public Relations representative to communicate with the people of Sheepshead Bay. We are currently working with the NYPD of the 61st precinct to ensure that concerns of the public are heard and false misconceptions about the mosque clarified. Representatives of ours will be at the annual "Night Out" event on August 2nd. Please feel free to meet with us we are all now neighbors. From now on we are looking forward to a productive and peaceful relationship with you all. C u there

Jul. 28 2011 03:27 AM

At first I did not understand the problem they are not insulting the 9/11 victims there, but reading more and more I am realizing they are doing this on purpose they chose an area were there are no Muslims most Muslims will have to travel just to get there and they will block traffic and streets they are just doing this to tick every one off on purpose and because they know they have the government sympathizers. maybe you should think about changing your legislators and we all should change the president. by law we have the right to impeach under every one of them for the use of abusive power. and allowing someone to break zoning laws could work. also you can fight fire with fire they are opening up doors for us to be able to build a church right next to them. they really hate the bells personally I would do that it would be more interesting to see how they react with thousands of churches next to all the mosqu's

May. 10 2011 06:34 PM
Reply to Lisanne


What MAS publicly admitting support for HAMAS? That doesnt bother you? Or the fact that MAS is an organization that claims to be bankrupt yet an unemployed member is able to buy 2 properties for 1.4 million and has other properties in Brooklyn that are paid in cash. Where does unemployed person get several millions in cash to pay for properties and has money to pay for the construction.

Sounds like Lisanne is a Americaphobe.

Mar. 21 2011 04:28 PM
RCCA from Monterey Bay, CA

So the mosque builders have violated zoning laws and building codes, disregarding the character of the street which is strictly residential, plus they have disregarded stop work orders -- causing these people untold grief and anguish. And then these builders have the nerve to shout and accuse the residents of being bigots because these homeowners want to protect their peace and quiet??? All I can say is, wow!

The builders claim they will be respectful after the mosque is built, and they expect people to believe them? I wouldn't believe them for one minute after the way they have behaved, regardless of whether they are Muslims, Protestants, or New Age organic vegetarians.

Mar. 16 2011 09:41 PM
Sheepshead Bay resident from Sheepshead Bay

As a property owner in Sheepshead Bay I will file a lawsuit against the city if this mosque gets built. MAS is classifying their project as "gas station / parking" and trying to build it in all residential area. Why is the city allowing them to violate City Zoning laws? Hows this different if someone would try to build a STRIP CLUB or FACTORY in a residential neighborhood.

Build your mosque in an area that is zoned for this type of structure. Residents are protesting because your project is not right for the area where you want to build it. My argument does not mention Islam or Muslim's in any way. I can go on forever about facts that links MAS to Hamas (MAS leadership admitted to supporting terrorists), the man purchasing the property is unemployed yet was able to pay $1.4 million in cash for the properties and has money to pay builders, architects. Now tell me if everything is kosher or not!!!

Mar. 16 2011 01:57 PM
Dave from Sheepshead Bay

We protested against illegal construction and MAS. Why illegal? The builders have tens of registered violations, they ignored many rules, they were fined, they worked even after "Stop work order" was issued. It's all confirmed, but DOB is looking another way. Why? Who is calling to DOB and telling them what to do -may be our mayor, our mosque loving mayor?
Why rules doesn't apply to them? It's a shame. I hope the investigation will proceed as it should be.
MAS (Muslim American Society) behind the project. Go to YouTube and watch videos of their leadership, Anti-American and Hamas- supporting to see whom you are dealing with. I don't want them anywhere, but in jail.

Mar. 14 2011 06:36 PM

Pamela Geller's activism includes organizing to protest against several mosques. She's also come out in support of banning halaal (Muslim equivalent of Kosher) food, and defamation against pretty much all personalities she deems sympathetic to Muslims. That includes calling President Obama an "islamophile".

Why do we hesitate in calling her and Robert Spencer what they are? They're bigots, hate activists. No better than the advocates of the Klan were.

Mar. 14 2011 02:08 PM
benjoya from brooklyn

the christian terrorist in spokane has got me worried. we must eliminate all churches!

Mar. 14 2011 11:25 AM

Go ahead and built it. As freedom rings in America, just be sure to include a Pork BBQ diner, a strip joint, an adult book store, a Victoria's Secret, and a barber shop on the street.

Mar. 14 2011 09:38 AM
Stephen Gash from England

Did Pam "thunder" as loud as the twin towers coming down?

Here in England mosques are sending out people planning terrorist attacks on both Europe and America. Several Muslim wannabe terrorists have already been sent to prison for lengthy spells inside.

Muslims have forfeited the right to build more mosques anywhere in the West. The greatest act of reconciliation would be for Saudi Arabia to permit churches, synagogues and temples to be built in Mecca, or ANYWHERE in that country.

When all the "understanding" and "reconcilliation" flows in one direction only, it is called stupidity.

Mar. 14 2011 08:53 AM
Sylvia from Brooklyn NY

I am America and I live all my life in Sheepshead Bay/Brighton Beach My Grandmother came from Russia many many years ago and she came here for her freedom and now the muslim, people are here for the same reason. I was born a Jewish and for the last 30 years I am a Muslim and very happy about is. We should respect others as you want them to respect you and not be against them they have the right to build there mosque here. And the City gave them the right to.

Mar. 14 2011 12:32 AM
Lisanne! from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn

The organization which has been formed to ensure that the mosque will not be built has repeatedly claimed that they are not acting of Islamophobia. And yet, their public events involve parties who are fanning the flames of hatred. They keep claiming that they have distance from such groups, but keep giving them a platform for their expression by organizing these now numerous protest events. And it appears that they are taking money from such parties.

Mar. 13 2011 11:20 PM

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