When the debate over the Park51 community center erupted this summer, much of it centered on whether the project’s opponents were expressing Islamophobia or simply an emotional response to the lingering tragedy of 9/11.
Out in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and Selden, Long Island, neighbors are opposing two mosques, for simpler reasons, they say: traffic and noise.
Some mosque members argue that the protests actually represent veiled assaults on their religion, with parking concerns serving as a strawman to hide people’s true feelings about Islam. According to the Post, fliers complaining about so-called quality of life issues have begun appearing all over Selden. “Mosque members argue that the fliers are ill-informed attempts at fear-mongering and that the expansion is simply an effort to accommodate a burgeoning Muslim population in Suffolk County,” the tab notes. Never mind this is the oldest mosque in the area.
Meanwhile, things are even uglier out by the bay, The Brooklyn Paper reports: “The main opposition group, Bay People, has said that it objects to the mosque because it will bring too much traffic to Voorhies Avenue. But the tenor of the rallies has been frequently anti-Islamic rather than anti-congestion, with signs reading ‘Islam not welcome here,’ ‘New York is not Islamabad’ and ‘Do not forget 9-11!’ carried by protesters. One resident even claimed he was going to ‘blow up the mosque’ if it was built.”
Of course, maybe the protestors are simply worried about being able to park their SUVs and avoid being awoken by the call to prayer. If that is the case, local Muslims should consider themselves blessed. After all, nothing is more American than having your project opposed by NIMBYs.