Arrests in Playland Incident Could Lead to Lawsuits – WNYC – September 6, 2011

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


By Arun Venugopal

The 15 people arrested at Rye Playland last week are considering legal action against Westchester County, according to their lawyer. The arrests took place after Muslim attendees at the amusement park became irate when women in their group were told they would not be able to go on rides if they were wearing headscarves.

Attorney Lamis Jamal Deek, who represents all 15 men and women, said litigation is “a real possibility, especially if we don’t see any reasonableness on the part of the District Attorney’s office” in dismissing the charges against her clients.

“And considering the circumstances, especially in light of the fact that it was not until the arrival of the police department and law enforcement officials that the situation worsened and became physical, we hope that the district attorney’s office would do its best to resolve this in the most just and fair and timely manner as possible, and we look forward to that resolution,” Deek said.

Calls to the Westchester County District Attorney’s office after office hours were not answered.

However, county officials addressed the incident during a public meeting on Tuesday, which was streamed online. One official noted that “the police response was appropriate” and argued that “the situation escalated and was rapidly deteriorating” when 25 members of the Westchester Police Department and “several” officers from the Rye Police Department arrived on the scene.
Another person told commissioners conducting the meeting that all details related to the Playland incident could not be discussed, given the threat of litigation.

The incident drew widespread attention, taking place on Eid, at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The Muslim American Society organized the August 30 outing, which drew around 3,000 Muslim attendees.

Parks officials note that they had communicated Playland’s policy forbidding headgear to organizers, well before the outing, but organizers admit that they failed to pass on the information to all attendees. Initially, parks officials said, Muslim attendees grew angry at M.A.S. organizers before turning on park rangers and police officers who arrived on the scene. However, attendees said they were not acting unlawfully, and that the police response was unnecessarily aggressive.

According to Deek, three of the 15 people arrested were women, including one minor.


4 suspects in Playland melee plead not guilty – LoHud – September 6, 2011

The following article was written by Andrew Klappholz and published at

September 6, 2011 – RYE — Four Muslims accused of disorderly conduct during a melee at Playland last week pleaded not guilty Tuesday in local court.

“The allegations didn’t make up disorderly conduct,” said their lawyer, Gideon Oliver, who specializes in group arrests and civil rights issues.

The suspects — Dalia Nazzal, 18, and Noor Jaber, 45, of Spring Valley; and Entisar Ali, 34, and Fuad Alnajjar, 37, of Brooklyn — are among 15 Muslims arrested in the Aug. 30 incident, which was sparked by Playland’s safety policy prohibiting headgear , including traditional Muslim head scarves, from major rides.

About 30 to 40 visitors, who were among about 3,000 in a group organized by the Muslim American Society of New York, scuffled with authorities after complaining because they couldn’t go on the rides.
Most face minor violations, but two are charged with felony assault.

The rest are due in court later this month.

Oliver said his clients weren’t looking for trouble and were simply caught up in the melee. Along with co-counsel Lamis Deek, he might also represent others from the group. Both lawyers are based in Manhattan.

They have until Sept. 20 to file motions, and Oliver said he would move to have the charges dismissed. Prosecutors will have until Oct. 4 to respond, and the defendants can reply to the response by Oct. 11.

On Oct. 25, City Judge Joseph Latwin will hold a control hearing at which he might rule on the motions.

All three female defendants wore their traditional hijab head scarves in court Tuesday.

Nazzal and Jaber were called during the morning session, but didn’t appear until the afternoon — a move that seemed to irk the judge.

“I’m not going to be inclined to do that on a regular basis,” Latwin said. “I’m on the bench at 9. We start at 9.”

Deek said the delay was because it was Nazzal’s first day of class at high school.

The NYPD: Spies, Spooks and Lies – NYPD Confidential – September 5, 2011

The NYPD: Spies, Spooks and Lies

by Leonard Levitt – author of NYPD Confidential

September 5, 2011

The New York City Police Department has been spying on hundreds of Muslim mosques, schools, businesses, student groups, non-governmental organizations and individuals, NYPD Confidential has learned.

The spying operation has targeted virtually every level of Muslim life in New York City, according to a trove of pages of Intelligence Division documents obtained by NYPD Confidential.

The documents do not specify whether the police have evidence or solid suspicions of criminality to justify their watching the Muslim groups.

The breadth and scope of the surveillance described in the documents suggest that the police have been painting with a broad brush and may have targeted subjects without specific tips about wrongdoing.

The NYPD’s spying operation has compiled information on 250 mosques, 12 Islamic schools, 31 Muslim student associations, 263 places it calls “ethnic hotspots,” such as businesses and restaurants, as well as 138 “persons of interest,” according to the Intel documents.

Police have singled out 53 mosques, four Islamic schools and seven Muslim student associations as institutions of “concern.” They have also labeled 42 individuals as top tier “persons of interest.”

At least 32 mosques have been infiltrated by either undercover officers, informants, or both, according to documents, which are dated between 2003 and 2006 and marked “secret.”

The NYPD has also been monitoring Muslim student associations at seven local colleges: City, Baruch, Hunter, Queens, LaGuardia, St. John’s and Brooklyn.

The department calls the two student groups at Brooklyn and Baruch colleges “of concern” and has sent undercover detectives to spy on them, the documents reveal.

The department defines a Muslim student association as “a university based student group, with an Islamic focus, involved with religious and political activities.”

The documents reveal that an Intelligence Division Cyber Unit has monitored MSAs at Brooklyn, City and Queens colleges.

The department also lists 10 non-governmental organizations as “of concern.” According to the documents, all 10 organizations have been spied upon by NYPD undercovers, informants, detectives with the Joint Terrorist Task Force or what the documents describe as a “secondary.”

On the NYPD list of 42 top tier “persons of interest” are: a corrections officer, a former imam, an un-indicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, a lecturer at Brooklyn College and what the department describes as a “Brooklyn College MSA member [who] has expressed desire to be a suicide bomber in Palestine.”

The police have spied on all these people with either an undercover officer, an informant, or both, the documents say.

The NYPD has also conducted spying operations within the state prisons on prisoners and imams. It has identified seven prisons “of concern”: Shawangunk, Gouverneur, Green Haven, Fishkill, Woodbourne, Attica and Great Meadow. The police have also complied information on about 200-250 inmates from “countries of concern,” identified in the documents as Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tanzania and Yemen, the documents show. They have also compiled information on the top five mosques called from prisons, the documents show.

The documents include a map of the city, which it calls a “Primary Defensive Perimeter.”

There is also a pie chart with a percentage breakdown by country of origin of the city’s Muslim communities.

Another map shows parts of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, and calls this area an “Expanded Defensive Perimeter.” The department has sent detectives outside the city to these four states on undercover missions, although the NYPD lacks legal jurisdiction outsides New York City.

And there is the NYPD’s own special language. Some “persons of interest” are described as “ideological detonators — Those who endorse and/or plan an act of violence.” Others are called “detonatees — Those who are more likely to commit an act of violence.”

One of the four Islamic schools that the department cited as a ”school of concern” is the Al-Noor School in Brooklyn, which runs classes from kindergarten to high school and describes itself as “one of the largest and fastest growing Islamic schools in America. … committed to the pursuance of excellence in Islamic and academic studies, the inculcation of Islamic values and morals and the development of a strong attachment of students to the Islamic culture.”

Lamis Deek, an attorney and Palestinian activist for Arab communities, said: “The leadership of many schools, especially Al-Noor, has repeatedly reached out to invite Commissioner Kelly every year to say to the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies, ‘We are here to help you.’

“They have attempted to build a relationship of trust with the NYPD but, no matter what they do, they are seen as targets and as suspects. Here they are extending this trust but instead are being surveilled and betrayed and abused.”

Since 2003, this column has written about the NYPD’s out-of-state spying on political groups; the department’s botched sting operation in New Jersey; and a connection to the CIA through Deputy Commissioner of the Intelligence Division David Cohen, a former top CIA top official, and through Larry Sanchez, another former CIA official, who, until his retirement earlier this year, was listed in the police roster as an NYPD Assistant Commissioner of the Intelligence Division.

Last month, Associated Press reporters in Washington uncovered evidence that the NYPD’s spying is far larger than previously reported. The AP report stated that the department had targeted ethnic communities “in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government.”

“These operations have benefited from unprecedented help from the CIA, a partnership that has blurred the line between foreign and domestic spying,” the AP said.

The NYPD maintained to the Associated Press that no spying had occurred without a criminal lead.

“We do not employ undercovers or confidential informants unless there is information indicating the possibility of unlawful activity,” police spokesman Paul Browne said. Browne also denied the existence of a demographics unit.

The documents obtained by NYPD Confidential appear to belie both Browne’s statements. The Demographics Unit is cited numerous times in the documents.

Browne was said to be out of town and did not answer an email from this reporter. Deputy Inspector Kim Royster, a police spokeswoman, did not return a phone call.

Articulating the department’s position on its spying, Browne also told the AP that the NYPD “is doing everything it can to make sure there’s not another 9/11 here… And we have nothing to apologize for in that regard.”

In the past he has justified the NYPD’s spying by citing a shifting number of unnamed plots supposedly foiled by the department.

One highly publicized plot involved a Pakistani immigrant, Shahawar Matin Siraj, convicted of planning an attack on the Herald Square subway station days before the Republican National Convention was to begin. Testimony at the trial in Brooklyn federal court revealed that the police department paid $100,000 to an undercover who encouraged Siraj in the bombing plot.

Both Kelly and Cohen have cited the department’s anti-terrorism efforts as having prevented a further attack on the city after 9/11.

Neither Mayor Michael Bloomberg nor City Councilman Peter Vallone, who heads the Council’s Public Safety Committee, has publicly questioned the extent of the department’s spying.

“Ray Kelly briefs me privately on certain subjects that should not be discussed in public,” Vallone told the AP.

Bloomberg said in response to the AP story that the NYPD does not take religion into account in its policing, a statement that, like Browne’s, appears to be belied by the documents obtained by NYPD Confidential.

It appears that no one outside the police department is monitoring the NYPD’s anti-terrorism measures. A former anti-terrorism commissioner described the NYPD as “a municipal agency operating like a mini-CIA.”

“What safeguards are there to ensure that the NYPD doesn’t break the law?” he said. “What mechanisms are in place to ensure that the NYPD, a municipal agency, does not become a rogue organization?”

“The NYPD has decided that the Muslim community as a whole is the enemy,” says defense attorney Elizabeth Fink. She is representing Ahmed Ferhani, who was indicted in Manhattan State Supreme Court in June for planning to blow up two synagogues.

The case is controversial — the FBI refused to participate, unofficially citing doubts about the reliability of the police undercover in the case, who developed evidence against Ferhani and another suspect.

For the first time in New York, a terrorism case is being tried in state, not federal court.

Men Plead Not Guilty to Synagogue Bomb Plot – Courthouse News – June 15, 2011

Men Plead Not Guilty to Synagogue Bomb Plot
Published June 15, 2011 at Courthouse News

MANHATTAN (CN) – Two men accused of plotting to bomb New York City synagogues pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges Wednesday; one man’s attorneys told reporters that an undercover detective entrapped their emotionally unstable client.
Ahmed Ferhani, 26, was forcibly institutionalized at least 20 and possibly more than 30 times in the past decade, his lawyers said.
Attorneys for alleged co-conspirator Mohamed Mamdouh, 20, could not immediately be reached for comment.
According to their indictment, the pair met at Ferhani’s home in Queens with an undercover detective on April 12 to plan how to blow up a synagogue without being caught by law enforcement.
Prosecutors say Ferhani met with the detective on several subsequent occasions to discuss bomb-making, selling drugs to fund weapons procurement, and posing as a religious Jew to carry out the alleged plot.
Mamdouh allegedly said that he had no qualms about killing Jews, and requested that the detective only discuss bombs in person, rather than over the phone.
Farhani and Mamdouh, handcuffed and clad in orange prison jumpsuits, were ushered into the Manhattan Criminal courtroom by several cops for the minutes-long hearing.
After one officer removed his handcuffs, Farhani hugged his attorney Elizabeth M. Fink, a prominent civil rights attorney. At the brief hearing, Mamdouh’s attorney mentioned that the charges against the defendants “dropped a significant level” since the time of their arrest.
At the time of their May 12 arrest, both faced first-degree and second-degree charges, including conspiracy, weapons possession and attempted weapons possession with hate crime and terrorism enhancements.
While the terrorism and hate-crime charges remain, defense attorney Fink said that the conspiracy charges have been reduced to a fourth-degree offense.
“The city of New York for their own nefarious purposes created a situation where these people were accused of the top charges,” Fink said. “Now, the charges have been substantially lowered from first degree, second degree to fourth degree.”
Yet, two of Ferhani and Mamdouh’s charges still qualify as “Class B” violent felonies, carrying potential 25-year sentences.
Unlike most terrorism prosecutions of its kind, Ferhani and Mamdouh will be tried in state court.
WNYC reported that anonymous FBI agents claimed that the “hyped” terror charges would not hold up in court.
At an impromptu press conference, Fink said she believed the FBI “wouldn’t touch it.”
“You don’t think they prosecute down there?” Fink asked. “I spend a lot of time down there. They prosecute all the time down there.”
New York City’s district attorney, however, is taking it very seriously.
“A picture emerges from today’s indictment that describes how the defendants plotted to bomb synagogues in Manhattan in an effort to contribute to what they referred to as ‘the cause,'” District Attorney Cyrus Vance said. “Their desire to commit violent jihad against Jewish Americans is not only an act of terrorism, but also a hate crime. Any threats to the safety of New Yorkers will be addressed swiftly and aggressively by this Office and our partners in the NYPD.”
Fink was quick to tell reporters that Farhani’s attorneys are “five Semites” – four Jews and one Palestinian, she explained – many of whom have long histories representing vilified defendants.
A junior partner on the case, Sarah Kunstler, is the daughter of self-described “radical lawyer” William Kunstler, who defended Stokely Carmichael, Lenny Bruce, and perhaps most infamously, World Trade Center bomber Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was nicknamed the Blind Sheik.
Assisting Fink’s press relations was Dhoruba bin Wahad, who was acquitted in the case of the so-called Panther 21, referring to the number of Black Panthers accused then cleared of plotting to bomb various sites in New York.

Fink said that their case parallels that of Ferhani.
“I think it is really unbelievable that this case came out and was brought 40 years to the day of the Panther 21 acquittal, which is what this case is about,” she said.
Like the Panther 21 case, Fink said she believe her client’s was “political,” stemming from the “personal ambitions” of the Manhattan district attorney and the city’s police commissioner and mayor.
She confirmed rumors that she would use an entrapment defense at trial, which has been used, mostly unsuccessfully, in several prominent terrorism trials across the county. One such case, that of the convicted synagogue bomb plotters nicknamed Newburgh 4, who have yet to be sentenced amid repeated procedural delays.
“The truth here is that our client has a significant psychiatric problem,” Fink said. “The city of New York knew that. The police department knew that, and for their own purposes, they brought this case.”
Her co-counsel elaborated on their claims regarding Ferhani’s psychiatric conditions.
“He was institutionalized by the city of New York anywhere between 20 and perhaps over 30 times over the course of the past 10 to 15 years of his life,” said Lamis Deek, another co-counsel. “He would be subdued, then taken into East Elmshurst for institutionalization.”
Fink added that Ferhani is being examined by two psychiatrists, who will determine his prognoses.
An New York Police Department spokesman could not immediately respond to an email inquiry for comment.

Most Serious Charges Are Rejected in Terror Case – New York Times – June 15, 2011

Most Serious Charges Are Rejected in Terror Case

Published June 15, 2011 in the New York Times

Two men who were accused of plotting to blow up the largest synagogue in Manhattan, and kill as many Jews as possible in the process, were formally indicted on Wednesday, but not on the most serious criminal charges sought by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Ahmed Ferhani and Mohamed Mamdouh, who were accused of plotting to blow up the largest synagogue in Manhattan, at their arraignment in State Supreme Court on Wednesday. They were not indicted on the most serious criminal charges sought by the Manhattan district attorney.

The state grand jury that heard evidence against the men declined to indict them on the charges of second-degree conspiracy as a crime of terrorism and as a hate crime, rejecting the prosecution’s assertion that they had plotted to blow up synagogues while there were worshippers inside. Instead, the panel favored lesser charges that suggested that the defendants, at best, had wanted to destroy a synagogue when it was empty.

The case that led to the charges against the men, who were arrested last month, was unusual for both the way it was pursued — both the investigation and prosecution were handled by local, not federal, authorities — and the way it was announced at City Hall on May 12, with city officials displaying live-action arrest photos.

Indeed, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.; and the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, were asked at that news conference why the case, which was presented as a serious investigation of a terrorist plot, had not been brought in federal court.

The men provided different answers. The mayor simply said that federal prosecutors “don’t take all the cases”; the commissioner noted that federal authorities have the right of first refusal, but that this case had actually started as a criminal matter and “morphed” into a terrorism inquiry; and Mr. Vance said his office focused on “local, unaffiliated threats.”

The F.B.I., which oversees the Joint Terrorist Task Force, whose agents and police detectives generally investigate such matters, declined to pursue the case and have said little about it. Federal prosecutors, apparently, were not consulted.
On Wednesday, after the defendants were arraigned on the indictment, a lawyer for one of them suggested that the investigation had continued because of politics and a desire to grandstand.

“I think you’re going to see that this case is a case based on the financial, political and personal ambitions of the police commissioner of the City of New York, the mayor of the City of New York and the district attorney of New York County,” said Elizabeth Fink, who represents the lead defendant, Ahmed Ferhani.

But Mr. Vance, in a statement, said the indictment highlighted how the defendants’ “desire to commit violent Jihad against Jewish Americans is not only an act of terrorism, but a hate crime.”

Despite the absence of the most sensational charges, the men were nonetheless arraigned on serious felonies under the state’s terrorism law, for which they could face up to 25 years in prison if they are convicted. Had the top counts been included in the indictment, the men would have faced mandatory life sentences if convicted. The law, passed after the Sept. 11 attacks, has never been used in such a case.

Mr. Ferhani, 26, and his co-defendant, Mohamed Mamdouh, 20, pleaded not guilty at the hearing in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. Ms. Fink asked Justice Michael J. Obus to appoint a forensic psychiatrist to evaluate her client’s mental condition.

After the arraignment, Ms. Fink called the case “bogus” and told reporters that Mr. Ferhani had a long history of mental illness.

Another lawyer representing him, Lamis Deek, said that Mr. Ferhani had been hospitalized 20 to 30 times in the past 10 to 15 years and had been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital by the Police Department. Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said in a statement that the department does not commit people, but may sometimes transport those who appear emotionally disturbed for evaluation at a psychiatric hospital, and has no say over whether the person is admitted.

“Even so, should that leave the police powerless from interrupting a plot to blow up a synagogue and to shoot and kill Jews in New York City?” he asked, adding, “Don’t think so.”

Mr. Ferhani’s mental history could have a significant impact on the prosecution’s case, which grew out of a sting operation in which undercover police detectives with the Intelligence Division sold guns and a hand grenade to the men. Mr. Ferhani’s lawyers said they intended to pursue an entrapment defense.

At the arraignment, Aaron Mysliwiec, the lawyer for Mr. Mamdouh, underscored the grand jury’s failure to include the top counts, saying, “The charges have dropped a significant level here in this case.”

Adam S. Kaufmann, the chief of Mr. Vance’s Investigation Division, said in a statement that grand juries were empowered to decide independently what crimes to charge defendants with, adding, “The violent crimes of terrorism for which they have been indicted expose these defendants to potentially lengthy prison terms.”

Al Baker contributed reporting.

Men Accused of Synagogue Bomb Plot Plead Not Guilty – DNAinfo – June 15, 2011

Men Accused of Synagogue Bomb Plot Plead Not Guilty

June 15, 2011 12:26pm | By Shayna Jacobs, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

Suspects in the Manhattan synagogue plot, Ahmed Ferhani (l) and Mohamed Mamdouh, at their arraignment May 12. (Pool photo by Lucas Jackson)

By Shayna Jacobs

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — Two men who prosecutors say planned to attack New York synagogues have been indicted in connection to the plot, prosecutors said.

Ahmed Ferhani and Mohamed Mamdouh pleaded not guilty to weapons possession and hate crime and terrorism conspiracy charges at their arraignment in Manhattan Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Ferhani, 26, and Mamdouh, 20, were originally charged with more serious conspiracy offenses but still face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top count, the felony weapons charge.

District Attorney Cyrus Vance said the defendants “plotted to bomb synagogues in Manhattan in an effort to contribute to what they referred to as ‘the cause.'”

“Their desire to commit violent jihad against Jewish Americans is not only an act of terrorism, but also a hate crime,” the DA said in a statement.

But lawyers for the defendants claim they were set up by a politically driven mayor, district attorney and police commissioner seeking to further their own “financial personal and political ambitions.”

Lawyer Elizabeth Fink, who represents Ahmed Ferhani, cited the fact that the city went ahead with the case despite the fact that federal agencies opted not to pursue it.

“The FBI refused this case. The joint terrorism task force refused this case,” she said.

Fink admitted Ferhani purchased semi-automatic pistols, a revolver and a grenade as alleged but insisted he had no plans to blow up a synagogue.

But she said her client is mentally ill and was ensnared by authorities.

Lawyer Lamis Deek, who also reps Ferhani, said he has been involuntarily committed for psychiatric issues by the city “20 to 30 times.”

Mamdouh’s lawyer Aaron Mysliwiec noted that the “charges have dropped a significant level” between the time of the defendants’ arrest and the indictment by the grand jury.

They are due back in court on Sept. 25.

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New York area Muslims deal with backlash from Bin Laden’s death – the Examiner – May 11, 2011

New York area Muslims deal with backlash from Bin Laden’s death

by Armir Taraj, The Examiner

May 11, 2011

Several local and international newspapers have recently reported on acts of vandalism on New York and New Jersey Muslim sites following the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.

The Gothamist reported on May 10th that a planned mosque’s fence in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, had been defaced with Bin Laden Graffiti: “Osama bin Laden’s death roused up strong feelings of patriotism and jingoistic drink recipes—and it also inspired someone to inform a proposed Brooklyn mosque of the Al Qaeda leader’s death by way of graffiti. Sheepshead Bites reports that “He is dead” and smiley faces were spray painted onto the fence outside a controversial mosque site. The mosque’s organizers called it a “hateful act.”

The Brooklyn Paper also reported on the story as part of its coverage of the larger story on the Sheepshead Bay Mosque winning approval by Judge Mark Partnow on Tuesday, May 10th: “A state judge ruled that the construction of a controversial mosque in Sheepshead Bay can move forward shortly after a lawyer for the developer hinted that opponents of the plan are terrorists — citing inflammatory graffiti cheering the death of Osama bin Laden at the mosque site.”

BBC also published an article on the same mosque’s recent approval titled “Brooklyn mosque row reflects wider tensions” in which it covered recent anti-mosque opposition throughout America: “For the defence, lawyer Lamis Deek said a “terrorising environment” had been created for the Muslim community in Sheepshead Bay. After Osama Bin Laden’s killing, graffiti reading “He’s Dead” went up at the construction site. The case was motivated by “racism and hatred”, Ms Deek said.”
Opponents of the mosque had claimed that the mosque’s construction would create traffic congestion and parking problems.

BBC further reported that “In the same neighbourhood, a third of a mile (0.5km) away, was a much larger church, without off-street parking, and a synagogue that’s under construction.” Neither of these two projects had received any opposition.
The Freehold Patch reported on Tuesday, May 10th, that the Freehold Turkish American Community Center had issued a statement condemning the vandalism that took place at their center on Monday, May 9th, in which a US flag that was displayed in front of the center had been stolen and replaced with a damaged one which had then been raised upside down: “We the Turkish American Community Center condemn the act of vandalism  on our building and insulting our US flag by someone replacing our well maintained and displayed US flag with a tattered one in front of our community center,” the press release stated. “Any act of vandalism is deplorable. But vandalism against a cultural center and places of learning, are particularly cowardly and hateful.”
Such incidents are not confined to the Tristate area. The Huffington Post reported on Tuesday, May 10th, that a local mosque in Louisiana’s Shreveport-Bossier City had been defaced: “According to police reports, a white male was seen tampering with the doors of a local mosque on Monday, and raw pork was found hanging from the door handles after his departure. Adherents of Islam do not consume pork, which they consider unclean”
The Huffington Post also reported in the same article that, earlier this week, a mosque in Amherst, NY had been targeted with a sign planted next to it that said: “Bomb making – next driveway”

Alleged Sheepshead Bay Racists Lose Mosque Legal Battle – Gothamist – May 11, 2011

Alleged Sheepshead Bay Racists Lose Mosque Legal Battle – Gothamist – May 11, 2011

From The Gothamist, May 11, 2011

By John Del Signore

Opponents of an under-construction mosque in Sheepshead Bay lost a preliminary legal battle yesterday when a Kings County Supreme Court judge refused to grant a preliminary injunction stopping construction at the site. You’ll recall that some local residents fear the mosque would create traffic congestion in the neighborhood, and they’ve vowed to stop the project in court. But after yesterday’s decision, the opposition group, Bay People, accused the defense attorney of labeling them racist. In a press release, they rant:

[Judge] Portnow denied a preliminary injunction without giving a reason for his decision. He ruled from the bench within minutes, which appears that his ruling was pre-determined. Deek, the defense attorney, had only one argument, the “race card” and called Bay People and Sheepshead Bay residents racists and terrorists and added that there are hundreds and hundreds Muslim families living in Sheepshead Bay and that they will all walk to the mosque and not drive.Our next steps would be to appeal this decision immediately. Moreover we are commencing an action against the New York City Department of Buildings for failing to adequately consider our zoning challenge via unreasonable delays and erroneously granting a building permit in the face of numerous violations on lies on the application.

As this video of an angry Sheepshead Bay protest from March showed, these people really hate this mosque. (Someone recently used the fence to remind the mosque that Osama bin Laden was dead.)And they have Councilman Lew Fidler in their corner; Sheepshead Bites reports that Fidler has written a letter to the DOB demanding they “follow the letter of the law and provide access to the publicly available materials.” Bay People argued yesterday that “construction cannot take place and cause irreparable harm to the neighboring properties and the community at large.” They also claim structural drawings have not been made available, and for several months now the Department of Buildings office workers have told them it was because the copy machine was broken.

“It was a win for justice,” says Ibrahim Anse, a member of the committee overseeing the construction. “Freedom and peace. God bless the USA.”

Contact the author of this article or email with further questions, comments or tips.

Mosque moves forward despite ‘terrorism’ – NY Post – May 10, 2011

Mosque moves forward despite ‘terrorism’

Judge OK Sheepshead Bay house of worship after lawyer claims opponents spread terror

By Thomas Tracy, Courier-Life, New York Post

May 10, 2011

A state judge ruled that the construction of a controversial mosque in Sheepshead Bay can move forward shortly after a lawyer for the developer hinted that opponents of the plan are terrorists — citing inflammatory graffiti cheering the death of Osama bin Laden at the mosque site.

On Tuesday, Judge Mark Partnow dismissed a lawsuit filed by the anti-mosque organization Bay People and neighbors of the as-of-right project on Voorhies Avenue between E. 28th and E. 29th streets, ruling that the mosque wouldn’t adversely effect the neighborhood.

The ruling came shortly after the lawyer for mosque builder Ahmed Allowey accused opponents of the plan of acting like racist terrorists.

“This is entirely motivated by racism,” said attorney Lamis Deek. “[The Bay People] has forced my client to expend his resources for no good cause and terrorize people with the vitriolic rallies that they hold.”

She added that the anti-mosque group would never have complained if a church or synagogue was being constructed.

“[They] claim that the mosque will be a nuisance and will be out of character with the neighborhood,” she said. “They’ve held rallies, protests and filed repeated complaints with the city, but have never done anything like this to a nearby church that doesn’t have any on site parking or a nearby synagogue that’s twice the size of the mosque.”

The Bay People do have a reputation of holding protests laced with anti-Muslim sentiment. Some protestors have even claimed that the Muslim American Society — which will take over the operation of the community center once it’s built — has ties to terrorism, although no direct evidence connecting the two has ever surfaced.

On top of that, the decision comes on the heels of a vandal spray painting a “happy face” and the words “He’s dead” on the fence surrounding the mosque site in an apparent attempt to taunt mosque supporters over the death of bin Laden.
The graffiti was discovered on May 5, four days after bin Laden’s killing by Navy Seals.

But a lawyer for the Bay People claimed the group is not anti-Muslim.

“We do not have a problem with the fact that this is a mosque,” attorney Albery Butzel said, pointing out that the mosque would have no on-site parking. “This is a residential neighborhood and the mosque has been plunked down in the center. Problems with street parking will be extreme.”

During the half-hour hearing, Partnow hammered Butzel over the parking issue, demanding to know what evidence the attorney had proving that most congregates would drive there.

Butzel provided a list of potential worshippers, claiming that most of the people on the list lived “more than a half-mile away” from the mosque.

“My clients live there and they say that there are not a lot of Muslims in a four to five block area,” Butzel said. “It’s a mixed area, but there are not a lot of Muslim families around.”

But Deek claimed that the Bay People were blind to their surroundings.

“[The Bay People] simply refuse to acknowledge the existence of Muslims in their community,” she said. “More than 90 people who will be coming to the mosque live within 10 blocks of it.”

After the ruling, opponents lashed out against decision and accused Deek of “playing the race card.”

“This is very painful for us,” said one opponent, who only identified herself as Tatiyana. “We are being hurt by this mosque and all [Deek] did was play on the judge’s emotions and make false accusations that she couldn’t prove. Anyone with common sense would see that this mosque is going to affect the welfare of people living on Voorhies Avenue.”

Allowey celebrated Partnow’s decision.

“We knew that the justice system was not going to fail us,” he said. “We’re going to continue with the construction and continue to be good neighbors.”

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