We couldn’t make it down to Sunday’s book bag giveaway, organized by the backers of the Voorhies Avenue mosque, the Muslim American Society. But, though other news outlets like News12 are saying all went well, Brooklyn Paper is reporting that opponents to the mosque used it as yet another opportunity to show Muslims that they are not welcome in the neighborhood.
Opponents have long said that their objection to the Muslim American Society-backed mosque is limited to the traffic and commotion it will supposedly cause, but protest signs plastered all over Voorhies Avenue between E. 28th and E. 29th streets suggest another motivation.
“Stop propaganda,” read one sign. “School supplies giveaway to cover your support of Hamas.”
Another sign added, “the Muslim American Society is not welcome.”
And as the kids lined up for their school supplies, one man chanted, “Go back to your country!” — though he did not specify the country.
Some members of Bay People, which organized this year to stop the mosque, stuck to the anti-Islam, not anti-traffic, argument.
“They’re just trying to dominate and provoke the neighborhood,” said Viktor, a Russian native who moved to Sheepshead Bay 20 years ago.
Other anti-traffic protesters also made a detour into vaguely anti-Muslim sentiment.
“It’s a quality-of-life issue,” said 20-year Sheepshead Bay resident Steven Peskin. “The Muslims are going to be praying or doing whatever they do five times a day, making noise, so why should I be inconvenienced?”
PS 52, a public elementary school, is right around the corner, serving hundreds of students.
For their part, supporters said that they knew there would be protesters, but were willing to go ahead with the giveaway.
“I knew it would happen, but there’s still people out there who need our help,” said Sarah Salem, a community service coordinator for the Muslim American Society, which has long denied a link to any terror group. “Poverty doesn’t discriminate.”