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None of the five elected officials who represent the block of Voorhies Avenue where the Muslim American Society hopes to build a mosque showed up at the anti-mosque rally on June 27, so we tracked down these elected officials and get them on the record. Here’s what they had to say (or, more accurately, did not have to say):
• Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Marine Park), who represents the eastern side of Voorhies Avenue, where the mosque would be built: “I’ve done what’s appropriate for a project that’s being built as-of-right and addressed all concerns that have been raised other than the offensive ones made by the people who will never be satisfied. I have made sure that [the builders] will comply with the law, but I do think some of the people opposing this are doing it for bigoted reasons. We really shouldn’t be painting an entire group of people with one broad brush.”
• Councilman Mike Nelson (D–Midwood), whose district begins on the opposite side of the street: Could not be reached for comment.
• State Sen. Carl Kruger (D–Mill Basin), who represents the eastern side of Voorhies Avenue, where the mosque would be built: “This is a house of worship and it can be built there, but at the same time, I understand the sensitivities of the affected community. I think we need to sit down some more and really air out the issues and concerns so we could come up with some kind of dialogue that makes sense.”
• State Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge), whose district begins on the opposite side of the street: “It’s very difficult. It’s their religious right to put up these individual mosques as one would put up a church or a synagogue and it’s difficult to stop it. That’s what the Constitution is based on.”
• Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein (D–Midwood), whose district includes the mosque: “I’ve been a strong supporter of everyone’s ability to exercise their [sic] religious rights, whether it’s been the construction of a synagogue or a church expansion. Freedom of religion is a fundamental part of our Constitution. I am concerned about some of the inflammatory speech on this issue, but people can sometimes be afraid of what they do not know.”
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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