Archive for the tag 'mosque'

Mosque construction in February. Photo by nolastname.

Voices of NY article reveals a major change in local demographics within the next 30 years.

It states:

According to the Faiths and Freedom Project for Religious Diversity of CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College, ‘Within 20 to 30 years the Russian Jewish – or WWII generation – will have lost its dominant status as a majority in Brighton Beach.’

The article goes on to highlight the demographic change from the Russian-Jewish population to a Pakistani-Muslim majority.

The influx that started in the 90′s is poised to grow. A 2000 U.S. Census counted 960 Pakistanis in the neighborhood. Ten years later, the population increased to 1,901, which is a 98 percent increase.

“When I came here 23 years [ago], there were very few Pakistani people and no mosques,” said Abdul R. Bhatti, in the article. “Now there are three mosques – a Pakistani one, a Lebanese and a Turkic.”

Local leaders state that they are working hard to build bridges between the two communities.

“We have worked hard to develop stronger relations with the other communities of Brighton Beach,” said Susan Fox, executive director of the Shorefront YM-YWHA.

Fox said the Shorefront YM-YWHA had a lot of connection to the Russian-speaking community and knew how to reach out to the Latino population, but had little experience with the Pakistani community, which is concentrated around Neptune Avenue. Thus one of the organization’s main priorities is to establish relations with the Muslim population and help as many people as possible.

“We have no problems with the other people here,” said Rasid Tauquir, a Pakistani resident. “We all live here – together.”

Now would someone tell these people?

Mosque construction in February. (Photo by nolastname.)

The ongoing issue of the proposed mosque and Islamic community center slated to be built in Sheepshead Bay has the community divided and the local politicians spinning the story from all angles.

Most recently, we covered a backpack giveaway that occurred at at 2812 Voorhies Avenue, at the mosque’s construction site. The giveaway was sponsored by the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and it received no less debate than the proposed mosque itself. In fact, there was a small protest at the site on the day of the giveaway event.

The New York Times ran a piece that tied the backpack giveaway to the larger issue of the split opinions related to the construction project.

The Times writes:

The mosque’s backers say 150 to 200 Muslim families who live within walking distance are in need of a local place to pray. The mosque, they want to reassure neighbors, will be an asset, providing afterschool activities to children, a Boy Scout troop open to all and charity events, like the school supply giveaway.

Those against the mosque cite parking and traffic concerns mainly.

“We understand that this is the First Amendment, that everyone has a right to pray, but what about our rights as a residents?” said Victor Benari, 58, one of the two protesters on hand last month. “It’s provocation, 100 percent. Why here? Why not build on a nice big commercial street?”

There are, however, others who believe that it will divide the neighborhood.

“Yes, they are smiling, but you know what’s behind their smiles?” said Leonid Krupnik to the Times. He was one of the two protesters at the giveaway. “Hatred. They want to create a caliphate. They want to push people out of this neighborhood.”

Krupnik belongs to a local group who calls themselves the Bay People. The group’s efforts center on blocking the mosque from being erected. However, due to laws which make it very difficult to oppose a house of worship, the best they can do is delay the project.

The Times writes, “Mr. Krupnik and other opponents say they are being unfairly typecast as xenophobes and racists. They do nevertheless worry that the neighborhood will change so much that non-Muslims will want to leave and they fear that the mosque will be used to promote radical thinking.”

It does seem, however, that opposition is loosening. Whereas last year, the police were called to the backpack giveaway to keep order, this year only the two protestors came. For the backers of the project, this is good news.

To celebrate the new school year, local Muslims, the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) are teaming up to give out free school bags and school supplies to the Sheepshead Bay community this Saturday, August 25.

A total of 300 school bags containing notebooks, pens, pencils, sharpeners, erasers, rulers, crayons and more will be distributed. The giveaway is part of a larger event organized by ICNA, in which 5,000 bags packed with supplies will be given out to needy children around New York City through August and September.

“Many families in New York are under financial pressure; some have lost jobs and find it difficult to buy school supplies for their children,” said Salman Khan, Project Director for ICNA NY. “We hope this initiative will cater to these needs of low-income families, and help build a better future for our children.”

When: Saturday, August 25, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m.
Where: MAS Sheepshead Bay Center, 2812 Voorhies Avenue

Other dates and locations can be found on the organization’s website. Above is a video produced by ICNA promoting the event.

Click to enlarge

These two fliers landed in my inbox this week, in the wake of a Brooklyn Supreme Court ruling that tossed out Bay People’s lawsuit against the organizers of the Voorhies Avenue mosque.

We’re not going to editorialize much on these fliers, since last time we posted fliers it turned out the one that claimed to be from the Muslim American Society was an incendiary hoax. So, just to be clear, we have not checked with either MAS or Bay People to see if they sanctioned the creation and distribution of these fliers. But we are saying that they are turning up all around the neighborhood.

What do you think? Real or fake? Waste of trees? Do they pursuade you to… uh… I don’t know… do whatever these guys want you to do?


Sheepshead Bay Mosque

The site of the proposed mosque. Local Muslims painted over where a vandal had previously spray painted "He is dead" after Osama bin Laden's death.

A Kings County Supreme Court judge refused yesterday to issue an injunction against the proposed mosque at 2812 Voorhies Avenue that would have required them to halt construction. But Bay People, the opponents of the mosque, are saying the “fight is far from over.”

The morning hearing was for a preliminary injunction to stop contractors from continuing work on the mosque until neighbors’ zoning challenges have been properly reviewed. The motion was filed in April by lawyers from the main opposition group, Bay People, after they got tired of what they believe to be administrative stonewalling.

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The construction fencing around the site of the proposed Voorhies Avenue mosque is sporting some new decorations: graffiti reading “He is dead” and happy faces.

The vandalism is believed to be in reference to the recent killing of Osama bin Laden. Organizers behind the proposed mosque and Islamic cultural center at 2812 Voorhies Avenue confirmed that the fencing was defaced after bin Laden was killed, calling it a “hateful act” for likening local Muslims to the fanatics that murdered thousands on September 11, 2001.

Keep reading for reactions from the Voorhies Avenue mosque organizers.

Opponents of the Sheepshead Bay Islamic Cultural Center have suspended their daily protests after Department of Buildings inspectors shut down construction at 2812 Voorhies Avenue yesterday.

Bay People sent Sheepshead Bites the following message:

Inspectors finally showed to the construction site after Bay People sent a number of letters to DOB officials and politicians calling out “their gross negligence” and ignoring our numerous complaints on the illegal construction, our zoning challenge, videos and pictures that we sent them.

Daily protests will be suspended for now as there is no construction taking place, we will keep you posted once they resume.

WPIX caught the inspectors on video, pulling up the site. You can see their coverage here:

Source: Bay People

The Department of Buildings has confirmed that inspectors visited the site of the Islamic Cultural Center (2812 Voorhies Avenue) today, and ordered all workers to cease construction immediately for violations of their partial Stop Work Order.

Upon inspection, the department found excavation work being performed that violated an existing Stop Work Order on the elevator pit. As a result, the agency is in the process of issuing violations for non-compliant conditions.

The partial Stop Work Order has been in effect since January 14 after rescinding a full Stop Work Order in place since January 6. The SWO’s were a result of complaints from opponents to the construction of the Islamic Cultural Center.

This morning’s inspection likely came at the urging of Bay People, who had an ongoing e-mail exchange yesterday with Ken Lazar, community liaison for the Department of Buildings, complaining that excavation continued in violation of the Stop Work Order. The e-mail included photos (one is above) and video.

Read Bay People’s letter to the DOB, and view the video they sent.

Construction workers on the job at 2812 Voorhies Avenue, January 31.

Opponents of the Islamic Cultural Center under construction at 2812 Voorhies Avenue plan to picket the project on a daily basis, the group Bay People has announced.

Infuriated by city officials’ stonewalling of their requests to challenge approval of the project, Bay People – founded solely to battle the establishment of the cultural center and mosque – is taking matters into their own hands. They announced in an e-mail this morning:

Residents of Sheepshead Bay have no choice but try to ensure complaince with zoning/building laws themselves! Neighbors, residents and our spporters will peacefully picket in front of the construction site at 2812 Voorhies Avenue (on a public sidewalk) every week day from 8AM-4PM until he DOB and NYC will follow their own rules and procedures and enforce the “Stop Work” order as well as force the removal of illegaly constructed structures.

When we stopped by the site at 1:30 p.m. today, no one was picketing at the site, and construction workers continued to excavate the foundation. Calls to Bay People representatives were not answered by the time this article went to web.

Bay People has had victories since the building plans were approved and the Department of Buildings issued permits. Members have been keeping a close eye on the project, with 15 complaints noted on the DOB website since the start of construction. The majority of complaints appear to have come from an engineer or another construction professional, with language noting technical problems and specific code violations not frequently seen in DOB complaints.

Keep reading about Bay People’s efforts, and their new political ally.

It appears the long battle over the Voorhies Avenue Islamic Cultural Center is nearing an end, as the Department of Buildings has issued permits to begin construction immediately.

The permits were the final bureaucratic hurdle to breaking ground, and came after three in-depth DOB reviews of the property owners’ plans.

Machinery for excavating and constructing the foundation, among other equipment, will be delivered today and work will begin this week, organizers told Sheepshead Bites.

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