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Backpack giveaway at Sheepshead Bay mosque draws protestors

Two anti-Sheepshead Bay mosque protestors boycott schoolbag giveaway

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Two Sheepshead Bay residents still fighting the hopeless battle to stop the construction of a Voorhies Avenue mosque protested a school supply giveaway in front of the still-under-construction house of worship on Saturday — but were easily drowned out by the dozens of parents and children looking for free backpacks, notebooks, and pencils.

Two neighbors noticed the Islamic Circle of North America — a group affiliated with the new mosque — handing out the supplies and used the opportunity to launch an impromptu protest, claiming that the building will destroy their block.

“They picked the wrong place,” said resident Leonard Krupnik. “This is a residential community.”

But Krupnik and fellow protestor Victor Benari weren’t holding signs protesting the mosque’s location. They were holding signs reading “No M.A.S.” — an abbreviation for the Muslim American Society, which critics say has ties to Islamic extremist groups.

The two didn’t have much company throughout the day: the line of people looking for free school supplies ignored the two men, witnesses said. A few neighbors came out egg Benari and Krupnik on, but quickly left.

Opponents to the mosque say that traffic and parking are their driving concerns in demanding that the house of worship close, but the tenor of their earlier rallies — which once drew hundreds of angry protestors to Voorhies Avenue — were more anti-Islamic than anti-congestion.

Neighbors protesting the mosque often held signs reading, “Islam not welcome here,” “New York is not Islamabad” and “Do not forget 9-11!” One resident even claimed he was going to “blow up the mosque” if it was built.

But the number of protests — and protestors — dwindled after the Bay People, the organization fighting the mosque, lost repeated lawsuits to have the project halted.

The Islamic Circle of North America purchased 25,000 school bags for the annual relief effort it holds in 49 cities across the country to help underprivileged families, a group spokesman said.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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