Peace march for new mosque gets ugly

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

A peace march to support for a controversial proposal for a mosque in Sheepshead Bay turned ugly on Thursday after residents jeered marchers, most of whom were from outside the area.

“This is a Jewish neighborhood — build a mosque in your own neighborho­od,” yelled Stan Yunatanov, who lives across the street from the proposed house of worship and cultural center planned for Voorhies Avenue between East 28th and East 29th streets.

Another woman, who refused to give her name, yelled, “[Muslims] don’t love America. They hate America.”

There were no arrests, but tension — which were already high ever since the Muslim American Society purchased the property earlier this year — was definitely of Biblical proportions during the “Children of Abraham Interfaith Peace Walk,” the seventh annual march for the Park Slope-based group.

The peace group originally planned to have its march in Coney Island, but decided to have it in Sheepshead Bay to support the embattled mosque project.

“It’s a show of support for the right of all faiths to worship,” said Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, one of the event organizers and the head of Kolot Chayeinu, a Jewish congregation that holds its services in a Park Slope church.

The show of support had a distinct “outsider” feel, however. Organizers said that they tried to get locals involved, but failed.

“We tried to recruit local clergy, but nobody wanted to join the walk,” said Rev. Tom Martinez, another Park Slope-based cleric.

And the original starting place for the parade — St. Mark’s Catholic Church on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Avenue Z — was changed after the church pulled out, citing local complaints, organizers said.

As a result, the march started on Voorhies and Ocean avenues. In all, about 200 children and adults — many waving American flags — walked peacefully down Emmons Avenue and up Bedford Avenue before turning down Voorhies, where they were greeted with the catcalls. Some opponents held photos of Muslims burning an American flag and denounced the mosque’s affiliation with the Muslim American Society, which has been tied to Hamas and Hezbollah.

That’s balderdash, said Ahmed Allowey, a longtime neighborhood resident who is working with the Muslim group to create the mosque because the “organization has programs for young people [to] maintain their Islamic identity as well as their American identity so they can grow up to be proud Muslims and proud Americans.”

Despite the ugly catcalls, the majority of anti-mosque residents said that their opposition was not about religion at all, but about traffic. The mosque would be on a very narrow street with little parking.

“I would say the same thing if it were a Catholic church because this isn’t a good spot for a house of worship,” said Amelia McMahon, who lives a block from the site. “This is a residential neighborhood. There’s nowhere to park, and I don’t want all the noise and traffic around here.”

That said, there is a growing Muslim population in the neighborhood, and many said they will walk to the mosque. As it is now, followers of Islam have no local place to worship and teach the religion to their children, supporters said.

“We are more than 100 families in this neighborho­od,” said Salle Colagi, who lives with his wife and three children near the site. “This is a good spot for the mosque because usually when we go to worship, or to teach our kids, we have to travel all the way to Bay Ridge or Canarsie. Once this is built, we can walk here.”

Updated 5:18 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Lisanne! from Sheepshead Bay says:
The nastiness that this building project has precipitated is incredible. I've never seen anything like this before. The decision by local religious leaders to disassociate themselves from this event is evidence that pressure was brought upon them by people whose anger has become so uncontrolled that they fear serious division in their congregation would be the result if they stuck to their principles. Perhaps they also fear vandalism as well. Angry people are capable of things that are both chilling and scary.

There are a number of religious structures on side streets or minor Avenues (such as Voorhies) in Sheepshead Bay> Many of them were built or converted for that use during the past ten years. Yet this is the first time any opposition to religious use has been raised.
June 11, 2010, 6:45 pm
Rob from Greenpoint says:
Yes, there is certainly a sky-high nastiness factor.
But isn't it a fact that with the constant headlines of
Islamic atrocities (and I'm not just talking terrorism)
from around the world, it would be fair to say that they
dealt themselves a bad hand.
Of course people don't want a mosque in their
June 14, 2010, 10:27 am
Mike Curatore from Carroll Gardens says:
There would be opposition to building a mosque in every neighborhood, even in the most liberal Park Slope. It is frightening, however, that all of the clergy in Sheephead Bay choose to stick their heads in the sand rather than use this as an opportunity to practice what they preach. Tail wagging the dog?
June 14, 2010, 12:50 pm
Irving from sheepshead bay says:
How come our great borough president Marty Markowitz hasn't said or done nothing about this issue ?? Where's Marty ??
I thought he was elected to bring all faiths together in peace in Brooklyn.
This just proves he's a phony , a fake & a fraud.
June 14, 2010, 1:02 pm
Jon from Bay Ridge says:
It's interesting how they want us to be tollerant of them building a Mosque in our neighborhoods but I dare you to even suggest building a church in their country. If a non Muslim woman wanted to walk the streets of any Muslim country she would be ridiculed, beaten or even arrested, yet they want to come to our country and expect us to tolerate having women walking around in burqas looking like ghosts and not being able to see the person walking next to you or shopping in a store with you.
I say, if you like your restrictive backwards ways, stay in your country. Don't come here and expect us to say welcome when the terrorists are among you and you do nothing to stop them or exposed them. Maybe because you really agree with them.
June 14, 2010, 2:36 pm
danny from Sheepshead Bay says:
Jon from Bay Ridge, you are a moron, and have obviously never been to the Middle East, I am in the Military and been deployed over there about 7 times, from the more liberal countries over there, to Iraq, and have seen many western non-muslim tourists on the streets of UAE and Kuwait, and Churches? how about the Catholic Church that was built in Qatar recently, oh wait, you must have your head in the sand, because obviously you are limited to what crap you read in biased blogs, get a clue, see the world, learn about it.
June 14, 2010, 10:04 pm
Abu AYmen from Sheepshead Bay says:
The Walk proofs the support from non Muslims ,, who is the majority and want everyone to be equal. Justice, Right will continue, and hatred will go away..

Borough President and other official know that the opposition is wrong and Muslims have right to practice like other religions and groups.
June 15, 2010, 1:16 pm
fair and sqaure from Brooklyn H says:
The second comment for poor guy(Abu AYmen 1) was done by one of the people who like others..

Woow lots of bigots still exist..

No place for such people!!!!


June 16, 2010, 12:12 pm
Ziyad Olives from Seattle says:
Oh My God, How ignorant some American people are, I am afraid they are in large numbers. Example is the idiot called "Jon from Bay Ridge".

Danny said it best, grow up guys and stop reading (if you know how to read) and start thinking. These Muslims have the same rights as everybody else, whatever you read, listen or see in the American Media is nothing but defaming to all humans and it is a disservice to our intelligence.

I would love to send financial donations to help building a mosque in that area, it might do the local "protesters" some good in educating them some tolerance.
June 29, 2010, 8:05 pm
Lucy Herschel from Jackson Heights, NY says:
We should all stand in solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers, who are, for the most part, the ones being terrorized, bombed, detained, subject to extaordinary renditions, imprisoned indefinitely, etc., etc. Lets not add to this by harrassing people who just want a place to worship in their own neighborhood. Kudos to The Brooklyn Paper for reporting on this issue.
June 30, 2010, 9:40 am
Ben from Brighton Beach says:
danny from Sheepshead Bay, you are a liar. Among many other distortions that you spit out here's the information about the first catholic church built in Qatar:

DOHA, Qatar — Qatar's first Christian church has no cross, no bell and no steeple.

And when 5,000 faithful flock to Our Lady of the Rosary to celebrate its historic consecration this weekend, they pray no one will notice.

A 15-minute drive into barren desert, it has been built with the blessing of the nation's emir.

The Vatican estimates there are 100,000 practicing Catholics in Qatar. They attended underground services until seven years ago, when Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the country's current ruler, granted permission to five denominations to open churches.
Some religious freedom! We should be just as tolerant as they are!
Aug. 11, 2010, 12:51 am
Roman from Sheepshead bay says:
I wouldn't worry about Catholic religion they're still highest by far,

Any way I'm a Russian Jew and must say I am disgusted by those that immigrated here from russian and other republics because they claimed
They were repressed and treated like second class citizens, some telling wrenching stories to immigration Dep
So they can get a political asylum in US,
And now they're protesting other peoples right for religion right like the Nazis did in Germany when they needed support from German people.
They probably forgot!!!!
Or just because they were hated all they're life in Russia now they became the haters!!!!

Sept. 7, 2010, 11:47 pm
Troy from Middwood says:
It's not the American way to condone or allow Alien or martian religions or philosphies.,To occupy our s
overeignty in Space,Time,Presence.
Nov. 24, 2016, 12:52 am

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: