Reader and Bay People member Victor Benari e-mailed us last week, attaching a quote from Ben Akselrod, who is facing off against Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz in the Democratic primary next month.
The quote, originally published in the Russian newspaper The Reporter, refers to the so-called “Ground Zero” Islamic Center, as well as the proposed mosque at 2812 Voorhies Avenue. It was translated as follows:
I do not believe that most representatives and officials from the state and the city approve of the construction of a mosque at the site of the 9/11 terrorist attack and in this neighborhood in Sheephead Bay where Muslims certainly don’t live. These representatives are quiet and vote “yes” because it is politically correct. They lie to themselves and their constituents. I’m not a xenophobe; I’m not against mosques, churches and synagogues. But if one mosque – an insult to the memory of victims, the other – a challenge to the community living in this area, so I would like to sort things out, who is behind this, and where does the financing come from for this provocative demonstration. And I would request an investigation as to how the city officials gave permission for the construction of such a large-scale structure on the narrow Voorhies Ave and which officials have signed-off on this.
There are so many things that I simply cannot tolerate as a citizen, but I see that my representatives and the representatives of people like me circumvent this issue-no matter what the outcome as long as they don’t hurt themselves.
The quote confirms what Sheepshead Bites speculated back in May, when Akselrod announced his campaign, when the candidate made thinly-veiled references to the mosque construction in an attack against Cymbrowitz.
“Nobody should be defending illegal construction in your backyard because of political correctness,” Akselrod said.
The quote appeared to be in reference to the Sheepshead Bay mosque being built at 2812 Voorhies Avenue. Opponents of the mosque frequently mix arguably legitimate complaints about building violations and zoning with racist, anti-Muslim rhetoric– and the main opposition group, Bay People, along with the Brooklyn Tea Party, has slammed Cymbrowitz in the past for not speaking out against the mosque’s development. Akselrod appears to be doing no different here, conflating concerns about over-development with fear-mongering speculation about the mosque’s financing.
Akselrod elaborated on his concerns regarding the mosque’s backers to Brooklyn Daily.
“The Muslim American Society — the organization behind this mosque — originate from the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that was outlawed in the U.S.,” said Akselrod, alleging the mosque backers have terrorist roots.
However, the Muslim Brotherhood has not been “outlawed” in the U.S., and the government even recognizes some of its more radical chapters. The group is not considered a foreign terrorist organization by the United States and has renounced violence – though is sympathetic to violent anti-Israel groups such as Hamas.
The mosque is not in Cymbrowitz’s district, the district that Akselrod is running for.
In related news, Askelrod led a march against hate on the Brighton Beach boardwalk this weekend, in the wake of the anti-Semitic vandalism at Holocaust Memorial Park.