Six letters have never caused so much controversy.
This past year, Sheepshead Bay became a powder keg of religious tension over a mosque planned for Voorhies Avenue, between E. 28th and E. 29th streets. Opponents of the mosque say that it doesn’t belong on a residential street and that they are afraid it would be a base for terrorists. Supporters decry that stance, and charge opponents with playing the potent race card to inflame the debate.
Ultimately, the city sided with the planners, giving them the go-ahead in October. Here’s a look back at what proceeded before then.
Hate speech: With the mosque in its nascent stages, an anonymous flier in parts of Sheepshead Bay proclaims that those behind the center supported terrorist groups and encouraged suicide bombings. It’s been a repeated refrain by protestors that has yet to be proven.
Peace, man: A peace march along Emmons Avenue in support of the project turns ugly when residents jeer the marchers — about 200 children and adults — with catcalls and photos of Muslims burning an American flag.
More hate: Later that month, protestors hold a rally of their own, with more anti-Muslim content. One man even threatens to bomb the mosque if it were built. He later changes his tune after an apparent investigation by anti-terror cops.
School stuff: Tensions rise again at a school supply giveaway sponsored by mosque supporters at PS 52, where protestors use it to decry the project’s supports as terror-linked extremists.
One lump or two?: Later that month, Tea Party members also condemn the mosque, rallying next to the 9-11 memorial at the 69th Street pier in Bay Ridge.
Two sides: A week later, dueling rallies clash at the site of the proposed mosque, with anti-mosque demonstrators on the north side, and supporters on the south.
It’s on: On Oct. 15, the Department of Buildings approves the design of the Islamic community center, allowing the owner to begin construction.
It’s off: Two days later, city officials quietly scrub the mosque and subject it to another review.
It’s on again: A week later, the city reverses its decision yet again, approving construction designs for a second time in a month.
©2010 Community News Group
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