Southern Brooklyn

Pols Raise Voices On Sheepshead Mosque Issue, ‘Bomber’ Renounces Threat

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At their June 27 rally, mosque opponents targeted politicians for their silence on the issue. Now they respond.

Brooklyn Paper has a pair of updates on the mosque issue, fueled by the deluge of comments they received from their initial report.

First up, they got in touch with most of the politicians with districts located near the mosque, getting their reading of the situation. The verdict? Freedom of worship is a constitutional right, and any attempt to stop the mosque from being built is an invasion of that liberty.

Here’s the wrap-up:

  • 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.”

Of course, it’s interesting to note that Fidler is the only one to address the zoning issues that have been brought up, pointing out that it’s as-of-right and there’s not much more he can do than make sure they follow the law.

And with that, Fidler stood out from the pack for acknowledging the segmentation of the opposition. Good on you, councilman.

The others, though, appear to be distanced from the situation and buying the mainstream hype that all the mosque’s critics are just bigots. Perhaps they should take some of Fidler’s advice: “We really shouldn’t be painting an entire group of people with one broad brush.”

That being said, I’m getting tired of those critics – both factions. The bigots, of course, I never made much time for anyway. A mosque in any mixed neighborhood in this country would draw out the idiots and the racists. But those who oppose the establishment on zoning issues have failed to condemn – publicly and unambiguously – the racist and inflammatory statements, and that’s been to their detriment.

It’s that failure to react that has allowed the media to depict the entire “movement” as racists, bigots and hate-mongers. But worse, they’ve allowed the entire neighborhood to be painted with that brush.

But then, who can blame them? Even the racists are a little squirmy, making them hard to peg down. For instance, the former Israeli soldier who told the Brooklyn Paper he’d bomb the mosque if it’s built is now running from his statement.

After reading his own words in our article last week about the heated protest against the house of worship, the bomber called us and altered his statement.

“I don’t care [about the mosque],” said the man, who again refused to divulge his name. “If they build it, I will just sell my home and move.”

He blamed “personal problems” for his vitriol.

All it took was a visit from the NYPD’s Joint Terrorism Task Force to get him to wise up. Still, if there’s been anything so far to convince me that there should be a mosque on that block, it’s to get this sociopath to move out of the neighborhood.

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