Mosque Advocates Plan March, Opponents Say 'Unfair'

2812 Voorhies Avenue - the site of the proposed mosque

Advocates for the Sheepshead Bay mosque are hosting a Park Slope group’s annual walk for peace in our neighborhood to demonstrate support for the proposed religious facility.

The Muslim Consultative Network advocates strengthening and unifying the New York City Muslim community. They’ll be holding their 7th Annual Children of Abraham Interfaith Peace Walk on Thursday, June 10th, at 4 p.m. The interfaith march will visit other area religious institutions, including St. Mark Catholic Church and United Methodist Church of Sheepshead Bay. It will kick off at Ocean Avenue and Avenue Z, down to Emmons Avenue, over to Bedford Avenue, then up to the proposed mosque’s site at 2812 Voorhies Avenue.

Organizers of the march are portraying it as a symbol of interfaith solidarity against intolerance.

“We’ll be supporting the emergence of this new faith community while deepening our interfaith connections and spreading the message that here in Brooklyn people from different walks of life experience mutual respect and friendship,” the press release states.

On their website, they write that “participation will be especially meaningful since some residents are trying to prevention the construction of a mosque in that community. Please join us to show support for an inclusive community.”

But Bay People, Inc., an organization of neighbors surrounding the Voorhies Avenue and East 28th Street lot, say the march is an intimidation. They claim it’s meant to cast all opponents as bigots, rather than address the issues of parking, traffic and noise that Bay People says are at the root of their concern.

“[A Peace Walk] presumes that there is a war, and not just any war but a religious war going on in Brooklyn. There is no war and therefore no need for a ‘Peace Walk,'” says a press release issued by the group. “We are here to say that there are absolutely no anti-Muslim sentiments in our opposition to the proposed Mosque. Any organization or group of people using this issue to advance their ideas and strengthen their status, show opportunism and self-promotion with little regard to the community and people’s concerns.”

The group said that a facility serving 150 households – as the mosque’s planners say it will – requires adequate parking, and that calls to prayer will disturb families and classes at P.S. 52 a block away. Neighboring homes have windows just feet away from where a prayer room could be, while an overflow of attendees could crowd the sidewalk as they say it does at a mosque on Neptune Avenue.

Opposition appears to have worn down some of the mosque’s advocates. Wall Street Journal reported on June 5 that the property owner, Allowey Ahmed, is in the process of transferring ownership of 2812 Voorhies Avenue over to the national Muslim American Society, a group some opponents say has ties to radicalism. But Ahmed was quick to point out that the $800,000 price tag for the project is being raised locally, a retort to those fearing outside influences.

Regardless, Ahmed seems fed up with the community response to the Muslim community’s plans.

“One of the most basic things in our faith is you have to be good with your neighbors,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “It’s sad that our neighbors did not accept us.”

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