Mosque-less Muslims improvise for Ramadan

Mosque-less Muslims improvise for Ramadan
Community News Group / Vanessa Ogle

Plans to build a mosque in Sheepshead Bay may remain on hold, but Ramadan waits for no man.

Local Muslims celebrating the Islamic holy month have been forced to make do with an improvised location for evening prayers — an empty storefront that was formerly a Burger King.

Over the past three weeks, about 27 men and boys have met in the evenings around 8 pm — the women came about an hour later — to pray and break their daily Ramadan fast in their temporary mosque on Knapp Street. One worshipper said he is just happy that this year — unlike the past few years — local Muslims were able come together for the holiday, even if the location wasn’t necessarily ideal.

“It is not the prettiest place but beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” said Mohamed Atiah, who lives in Sheepshead Bay. “It is just a month.”

Sheepshead Bay’s Muslim community has struggled since 2009 to build a mosque in the neighborhood, but the project has been held up by local opposition, bureaucratic wrangling, and lawsuits.

The project was met with hateful opposition from some locals, as well as more pedestrian concerns from residents over traffic and parking.

Construction began at the site on Voorhies Avenue near E. 23rd Street in late 2010, but has been held up by a succession of lawsuits. There is still no clear deadline for completion.

“We wanted it to be ready a while ago,” said Atiah.

Ramadan ends July 28.

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow her attwitter.com/oglevanessa.
Pitcher perfect: Salm Almardai pours drinks for the men.
Community News Group / Vanessa Ogle