It pains me to admit that the best reporting on the issue of the Voorhies Avenue mosque did not come from Sheepshead Bites, but is the most recent report in The Forward. Until now, I have not yet seen any other media outlet so devoted to covering the varied intentions and disparate motivations of those involved, or with a sensitivity and respect of its subjects. As a reporter, I’m humbled. As a publisher, I’m envious.
Here’s an excerpt:
Depending on whom you ask, the new mosque planned for a quiet block in southern Brooklyn is either the latest target in a wave of coordinated anti-Muslim sentiment, part of an insidious effort to spread political Islam throughout America or simply a parking nightmare waiting to happen.
On Sunday morning, September 26, partisans of each of these positions could be found in dueling protests that convened near the empty double lot on Voorhies Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, where the mosque and community center would be built.
The rallies for and against the mosque marked an emotional peak in a long-simmering dispute that began getting serious attention in July, when the controversy over the proposed Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero dominated the nation’s headlines. But the dispute began percolating months earlier. And in many ways, this lower-profile drama, taking place far from the bright lights of Manhattan, offered a more representative picture of the ways in which practical neighborhood concerns, generic xenophobia and the particular fears generated by the existence of a radical Islamic strain in the world can form a complicated web that is hard to unravel.