Archive for Brooklyn

‘The Jews have stopped the billboard’ – American Atheists’ Leader Complains that ‘God is a myth’ ad near Hasidic Neighbourhood has Been Blocked

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2012 by loonwatch

Bob Pitt of Islamophobia-Watch rightly questions whether Islamophobes who allied themselves with American Atheists over the Zombie Muhammad issue will now cry that Jews are attacking freedom of speech and expression, as they surely would if Muslims had stopped the billboard:

(via. Islamophobia-Watch)

‘The Jews have stopped the billboard’ – American Atheists’ Leader Complains that ‘God is a myth’ ad near Hasidic Neighbourhood has Been Blocked

by Bob Pitt

This time atheists found themselves answering to a higher power – a picky landlord. A Southside loft owner refused to allow a billboard questioning Judaism to be installed atop his S. Fifth Street building on Tuesday amid outrage in Williamsburg’s Hasidic community.

National atheist leaders tried to take out a month-long ad adjacent to Williamsburg’s Orthodox Jewish stronghold with text in English and Hebrew reading: “You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice.” But at the last minute, landlord Kenny Stier refused to allow workers from the advertising company Clear Channel into his building, according to American Atheists president David Silverman.

Silverman claims powerful neighborhood rabbis convinced Stier to block the non-believing billboard and called the religious leaders and the landlord “anti-atheist bigots”. “The Jews have stopped the billboard,” said Silverman. “It’s really ugly bigotry. As a former Jew, it’s repugnant to see Jews act like this.”

Several Hasidic leaders said they had nothing to do with the landlord’s decision to block the billboard, and Stier declined to comment. “I don’t want to get involved in this,” he said.

Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg) said the billboard showed a “severe lack of sensitivity” at a time when Brooklyn should be striving to have open conversations about religion.

“Even if we were to ignore the antagonistic placement of this billboard near the Williamsburg Bridge, the content of the message is conveyed in a disrespectful manner,” said Levin. “This does not appear to be a genuine attempt to engage in a dialogue, but is here merely to insult the beliefs of this community.”

The Brooklyn Paper, 6 March 2012

We look forward to Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who have been enthusiastically supporting American Atheists over the “Zombie Muhammad” controversy, joining Silverman in condemning this development as an outrageous attack on freedom of expression – as they undoubtedly would if it had occurred in a Muslim neighbourhood. But don’t hold your breath.

Anti Muslim Graffiti Scrawled on Kensington Insurance Shop

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2012 by loonwatch
Anti Muslim graffiti insulting Allah scrawled on Kensington insurance shop.
Anti Muslim graffiti insulting Allah scrawled on Kensington insurance shop.

Anti Muslim graffiti insulting Allah scrawled on Kensington insurance shop

By Simone Weichselbaum / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Bangladeshis in Kensington said they are living in fear after Muslim hate graffiti was found on a storefront in the neighborhood’s bustling shopping strip.

The manager of TDS Insurance on Beverly Road near McDonald Avenue, came to work Monday and spotted a nauseating sight:

“It was written on the outside – ‘Allah is s–t,’” said Abu Chowdhury, 51, who immediately called the cops.

“I have no enemies,” he said. “We are not a religious business.”

Although the hateful message was erased hours later, Bangladeshis said the sight left them emotionally scarred.

“It is just shocking,” said Mamnunul Haq, a Bangladeshi community leader. “No one wants to see anything like that.”

“We are a very peaceful people,” Haq added.

Kensington is one of the most diverse areas in the city – home to a Muslim stronghold mainly comprised of Bangladeshis and Pakistanis, living among Mexican families and Orthodox Jews.

Bangladeshis joined their Hasidic neighbors in July during the search for Leiby Kletzky, the 8-year-old boy who went missing in Borough Park and was later found dead.

They also blasted the vandal or vandals who painted a half dozen swastikas around Midwood last month.

“It happened in the Jewish community. And now it is happening in ours,” Haq said.

Hoping to quell the growing anxiety, Councilman Brad Lander (D-Kensington) held a meeting Wednesday night with Bangladeshi, Jewish, and Latino residents discussing ideas about how to prevent future hate crimes in their hood.

Lander wants to put a set of trees and benches in front of TDS Insurance, calling it “Kensington Plaza,” serving as a mixed race meeting spot.

“In the face of hatred, this community is coming together,” Lander said. “When these things happen, you have to stand up.”

simonew@nydailynews.com

Creeping Halakha in Brooklyn? Women Told to Sit in the Back of the Bus

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2011 by loonwatch

If this were Muslims you could be sure that there would be a boycott of this bus line, as well as cries about Creeping Sharia’ and the threat of Islamization.

Women ride in back on sex-segregated Brooklyn bus line

(New York World)

On the morning of October 12, Melissa Franchy boarded the B110 bus in Brooklyn and sat down near the front. For a few minutes she was left in silence, although the other passengers gave her a noticeably wide berth. But as the bus began to fill up, the men told her that she had to get up. Move to the back, they insisted.

They were Orthodox Jews with full beards, sidecurls and long black coats, who told her that she was riding a “private bus” and a “Jewish bus.” When she asked why she had to move, a man scolded her.

“If God makes a rule, you don’t ask ‘Why make the rule?’” he told Franchy, who rode the bus at the invitation of a New York World reporter. She then moved to the back where the other women were sitting. The driver did not intervene in the incident.

The B110 bus travels between Williamsburg and Borough Park in Brooklyn. It is open to the public, and has a route number and tall blue bus stop signs like any other city bus. But the B110 operates according to its own distinct rules. The bus line is run by a private company and serves the Hasidic communities of the two neighborhoods. To avoid physical contact between members of opposite sexes that is prohibited by Hasidic tradition, men sit in the front of the bus and women sit in the back.

The arrangement that the B110 operates under can only be described as unorthodox. It operates as a franchise, in which a private company, Private Transportation Corporation, pays the city for the right to provide a public service. Passengers pay their $2.50 fare not by MetroCard, but in dollar bills and coins. The city’s Franchise and Concession Review Committee defines a franchise on its website as “the right to occupy or to use the City’s inalienable property, such as streets or parks, for a public service, e.g., transportation.”

The agreement goes back to at least 1973, and last year the franchise paid the city $22,814 to operate the route, according to the New York City Department of Transportation. According to the news site Vos Iz Neias?, which serves the Orthodox Jewish community in New York City and elsewhere, the bus company has a board of consulting rabbis, which decreed that male passengers should ride in the front of the bus and female passengers in the back.

City, state and federal law all proscribe discrimination based on gender in public accommodations. “Discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations in New York City is against the law,” said Betsy Herzog, a spokeswoman for the New York City Commission on Human Rights, which investigates and prosecutes alleged violations of anti-discrimination law.

The Department of Transportation, which issues the franchise, confirms that it understands the B110 to be subject to anti-discrimination laws. “This is a private company, but it is a public service,” said Seth Solomonow, a spokesman for the DOT. “The company has to comply with all applicable laws.”

Following the New York World’s inquiry, Solomonow said DOT would contact Private Transportation Corporation. “We are reaching out to the company about this alleged incident to ask for its response, with the expectation that it will take steps to prevent the occurrence of incidents of this nature,” he said.

The B110 bus shares stops with MTA busesMelissa Franchy/Special to the New York World

Herzog said the Human Rights Commission would not investigate the B110 unless someone filed a complaint. But its website states that “anyone who provides goods and services to the general public is considered a public accommodation” and that it illegal for public accommodations to “set different terms for obtaining those goods or services” to different groups.

Ross Sandler, a professor at New York Law School and editor of the CityLaw newsletter, said that anti-discrimination laws apply to bus franchises, but that religious groups are sometimes granted exceptions. “Do all these laws apply? Yes, they apply to buses that are franchises,” Sandler said. “The question is whether there is an exception for this particular bus line.”

The Transportation Department said that the B110 had not been granted any exceptions to anti-discrimination laws.

Calls to the offices of Private Transportation Corporation also went unreturned. We tried calling the home of Jacob Marmurstein, the company’s president, but were told he was unavailable.

The New York World will be keeping a close eye on the practices aboard the B110 bus and the city’s response – and we will let you know when we hear more.

Altercation at New York amusement park after Muslim women banned from rides for wearing headscarves

Posted in Loon Violence, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2011 by loonwatch

(Via Islamophobia-Watch.com)

Altercation at New York amusement park after Muslim women banned from rides for wearing headscarves

A New York amusement park was temporarily shut down Tuesday after a large-scale altercation erupted between Muslim patrons and park rangers over a disagreement on headgear rules.

Muslim women in a tour group at Rye Playland in Westchester County were reportedly denied access to several rides because they were wearing hijabs – their traditional headscarves, MyFoxNY reports.

“Our headgear policy is designed to protect the safety of patrons and safety is our first concern,” said Deputy Parks Commissioner Peter Tartaglia. “This policy was repeatedly articulated to the tour operator, but unfortunately the message did not reach some of the members of his group.”

The altercation began when park officials offered refunds and members of the Muslim group got in a scuffle, Tartaglia told The Journal News. Two park rangers were injured when they jumped in to break it up, he said, and were taken to local hospitals.

Dozens of police vehicles from nine agencies then rushed to the park, where officers arrested 15 people – mostly for disorderly conduct, authorities said. The disturbance involved around 30 to 40 people.

All other visitors were not allowed into the park between 4 and 6 p.m. ET, with exit ramps from I-95 closed as well.

The tour group – the Muslim American Society of New York – was at the park to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr, an Islamic holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, MyFoxNY reports.

“Everybody got mad, everybody got upset,” Amr Khater, a Brooklyn resident, told The Journal News. “It’s our holiday. Why would you do this to us?” Khater said park rangers notified him of the headgear rules upon arrival.

Fox News, 30 August 2011

The Journal News reports: “Lola Ali, 16, of Astoria said she witnessed a group of girls and women wearing hijabs go to park security to confront them about the headgear issue. She said the women were upset and yelling. She said the security officers started pushing them away and the girls stood their ground, at which point the security officers grabbed them, pushed them to the ground and handcuffed them. Men within the park saw this and tried to intervene, Ali said, and the situation went downhill from there. ‘They were beating down the girls, then they started beating down the guys,’ she said of the security officers.”

Boy’s Remains Found in Refrigerator; New York Man in Custody

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , on July 18, 2011 by loonwatch

If this happened in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood, rest assured the Islamophobes would be blaming Islam.

Boy’s remains found in refrigerator; New York man in custody

(LA Times)

NEW YORK—A young Brooklyn boy who vanished while walking home from a day camp in one of the safest parts of the city was killed and dismembered by a stranger who he had turned to for help after getting lost, police said Wednesday.

An intense search for the missing 8-year-old, Leiby Kletzky, ended early Wednesday morning with the gruesome discovery of pieces of his dismembered body inside the home of a man who had been seen with the child around the time he disappeared, police said.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the 35-year-old suspect, Levi Aron, made statements implicating himself in the boy’s death.

Photos: Missing boy found dead

Investigators tracked Aron with the help of surveillance video that showed him being approached by the lost boy.

When detectives arrived at the man’s home, they asked him where the boy was and he nodded toward the kitchen, Kelly said.

Detectives saw blood on the freezer door and they opened it to discover bloody knives, a cutting board and feet inside, according to a law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Additional body parts were found inside a red suitcase that had been tossed into a trash bin in another Brooklyn neighborhood.

Police and volunteers had been looking since late Monday afternoon for Leiby, who disappeared while on his way to meet his mother in the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Borough Park.

The break in the case came when investigators focused on a grainy surveillance video that showed the boy, wearing his backpack, walking down the street, while a man walked nearby.

Detectives noticed the man on the video going into a nearby dentist’s office, Browne said. The dentist, located later in New Jersey, said he remembered someone coming by to pay a bill for a patient, and police were able to identify Aron using records from the office. When they went to his home, they made the gruesome discovery.

Police said Aron lives alone in the apartment, in a building shared with his parents. He once had a summons for urinating in public but otherwise did not have a criminal record, Kelly said.

Outside the family’s apartment building Wednesday morning, men and women from the community clustered in separate groups. Many of the mothers gathered there said the streets are safe enough for a child Leiby’s age to walk home alone.

“This is a no-crime area,” said State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, whose district includes the area. He said the boy was the only son of the Kletzky family. The couple has four daughters, and the husband works as a driver for a private car service.

“Everybody is absolutely horrified,” he said. “Everyone is in total shock, beyond belief, beyond comprehension … to suddenly disappear and then the details … and the fact someone in the extended community … it’s awful,” he said.

He said the parents did not know Aron, who lived about a mile away from the boy.

At about 6:45 a.m., an NYPD crime unit carted away the trash bin where some of the body parts had been found and put it in a truck, and police officers walked in a line looking for evidence under cars and on sidewalks.

The medical examiner’s office will determine a cause of death and positive identification.

Leiby was one of the neighborhood’s many Hasidic Jews, an ultra-Orthodox people who live in tight-knit, somewhat insular communities and abide by strict religious rules that require men to wear dark clothing that includes a long coat and a fedora-type hat. Men often have long beards and ear locks.

Most of the 165,000 members in the New York City the area live in neighborhoods in Brooklyn and are part of three different sects. Hasidism traces its roots to 18th-century Eastern Europe.

A $100,000 reward had been offered, Hikind said the outpouring of support has been tremendous with people from all over the state volunteering their time to scour the neighborhood and hand out flyers.

Adel Erps, who lives two blocks from the family, said she was very upset because the state of the body means it will be more difficult to do a proper burial. Like other neighborhood residents congregating near the boy’s home Wednesday, she expressed shock that the suspect was Jewish.

“He’s a sick person obviously, but it hurts so much more,” she said.

Simchon Shwartz Charged with Felony Hate Crime after Attacking ‘f—ing Arabs’ Living Next Door

Posted in Feature, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2011 by loonwatch

A Hasidic man, Simchon Shwartz shouted racist epithets and violently assaulted his neighbor, calling them “F—ing Arabs,” “F—ing Terrorists.”

“F—ing Arabs! F—ing terrorists!” Schwartz screamed when he grabbed his neighbor, Selda Turan, 27. He shoved the woman against her car and poured beer on her head, a police source said.

This disgusting assault will most likely not be covered much by the media, we will hear deafening silence from Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, or silly equivocation along the lines of, “but…no..he was drunk,” etc.

Imagine for a second if a Muslim had done this? We all know that this would be immortalized as a terrorist attack and Islam would be blamed for the attack. (hat tip:Peak of Elephants)

Brooklyn Hasid charged with felony hate crime after attacking ‘f—ing Arabs’ living next door

BY Rocco ParascandolaKerry Burke and Bill Hutchinson
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

A boozy Brooklyn man was hit with hate crime charges Sunday for pouring beer on a newlywed neighbor, calling her an “Arab terrorist” and pummeling her husband, police sources said.

Following the seemingly unprovoked attack Saturday night in Mill BasinSimchon Schwartz, 46, hid in a local synagogue and tried to fight off cops when they came to arrest him, sources said.

The Hasid even kicked out a window of a police cruiser as he sat inside, whining that “the cuffs are too tight,” a source said.

“F—ing Arabs! F—ing terrorists!” Schwartz screamed when he grabbed his neighbor, Selda Turan, 27. He shoved the woman against her car and poured beer on her head, a police source said.

Turan’s husband of 13 months, Mustafa Turan, rushed out of their house to protect his wife, but Schwartz punched him in the face, the source said.

Neighbors said the Turans moved into the heavily Jewish neighborhood about a month ago. They said the victims were from Turkey; it wasn’t clear if they were Muslim.

Schwartz was arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court on charges of felony assault and felony criminal mischief, both as hate crimes. He was also charged with resisting arrest, obstructing cops, menacing and harassment. He could get up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

“They arrested the wrong person,” Schwartz’s attorney, Lance Lazzaro, said Monday night.

He said his client was attacked by Mustafa Turan, 32, after Selda Turan complained about Schwartz’s children being noisy. He said Mustafa Turan called Schwartz a “dirty Jew” and hit him.

Cops said they found no physical evidence supporting Schwartz’s counterclaim, while Mustafa Turan needed three stitches to close a gash on his nose. The ordeal erupted at 7 p.m. Saturday when Schwartz began harassing Selda Turan on their E. 70th St. block, a criminal complaint charges. Schwartz opened a can of beer and poured it on Selda Turan, grabbed her by the the arm, pushed her into the side of her car and called her an “Arab terrorist,” the complaint said.

Selda Turan was left with scratches and bruises. Schwartz was released without bail.

A judge rejected a prosecution request to hold Schwartz on $60,000 bail, but granted the Turans an order of protection barring him from contacting them.

The Turkish couple live in a townhouse that shares a common wall with Schwartz’s home.

Cops said that following the fisticuffs, Schwartz scratched the Turans’ car with a key.

Once Schwartz, a car dealer, bolted from the scene, the Turans called 911. Schwartz’s son led cops to a Chabad House on nearby E. 69th St., where they found the suspect. Cops smelled alcohol on his breath, a source said.

Schwartz struggled with cops as they dragged him out of the synagogue in handcuffs. They drove him to his house, where his neighbors identified him as the culprit. As Schwartz threw a tantrum in the police car, his wife made a veiled threat to the victims, sources said.

“This is a majority Jewish neighborhood. We’re going to get you back,” Esther Schwartz told the Turans, the sources said.

While Schwartz was in jail over the weekend, his wife circulated a petition demanding the Turans’ landlord evict them, neighbors said. About 20 neighbors signed it, but the Turans’ landlords, Rusden and Saadet Dolan, refused.

“That’s their opinion,” Rusden Dolan told the Daily News.

With Amir Khan and Oren Yaniv

rparascandola@nydailynews.com


Brooklyn man imprisoned woman, chained and whipped her under ”Sex slave rules’: prosecutors

Posted in Loon Violence, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on May 4, 2011 by loonwatch
John Hopkins pleads not guilty to keeping a woman as a sex slave in his Brooklyn… (Ward for News)

It wasn’t Islam that made him do this. It wasn’t the Arab culture that made him do this, but just imagine if he were Muslim?   (Hat tip: Saladin)

Brooklyn man imprisoned woman, chained and whipped her under ”Sex slave rules’: prosecutors

BY OREN YANIV

DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITE

A Brooklyn man accused of raping a woman he kept as a sex slave had a chilling list of penalties for her – including flogging and chaining her to a radiator – if she disobeyed his rules, prosecutors said Friday.

John Hopkins, 45, pleaded not guilty in Brooklyn court to a litany of charges after prosecutors detailed the graphic “master” and “slave” relationship he had with a 27-year-old Midwestern woman who came to live with him last month.

Hopkins “set up slave rules,” prosecutor Christopher Laline said. “He punished her if she disobeyed.”

Aside from flogging and chaining her, the penalties included forcing her to drink water and barring her from the bathroom and sexual molesting her, the prosecutor said. “This is a henious crime,” Laline said of the 62-count indictment.

After a week, the victim, who was working at an elite sushi restaurant, told her mother she was being held captive, prompting a call to police.

Brooklyn Mosque Rally Turns Ugly

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2010 by loonwatch

Brooklyn Tea Partiers?

BROOKLYN MOSQUE RALLY TURNS UGLY

by Vegas Tenold

It was supposed to be a rally about parking. Somehow it turned into praise for Qu’ran burning, declarations of war and enough vitriol to warrant almost 20 police officers.

Almost before it began, it became clear that the crowds lining Voorhies Avenue for last Sunday’s rally against a proposed mosque had different concerns than the local residents.

Earlier this year, the Muslim American Society bought a lot on a residential part of Voorhies Avenue announcing that they wanted to build a community center with an after-school program and prayer rooms.

Neighbors oppose the plan, saying that the area is residential and that the street can’t handle the additional cars that the community center will bring. They also fear that the mosque will bring down the value of their homes.

On Sunday, houses on Voorhies Avenue were plastered with signs reading “Religion is not an excuse for zoning violation” and “If it doesn’t fit then don’t build”. Bay People, a group of residents, had arranged the rally. Their arguments, however, quickly drowned out.

At noon, at least 100 people crowded the sidewalk, with more people arriving. Many were holding American flags. Others had draped themselves with them. Signs reading “NO M.A.S.” referring to the Muslim American Society, were ubiquitous. Several signs linked the M.A.S. to Hezbollah and Hamas, and a large banner announced the presence of the Brooklyn Tea Party. Across the street were the supporters of the community center, holding signs that said “We Say No To Racist Fear” and “Muslims Are Welcome Here”.

Few of Sunday’s speeches mentioned the concerns heard earlier about parking and home values. John Kenneth Press of the Brooklyn Tea Party said in his speech that “Islam has been fighting the West for 1400 years. Do they believe in freedom in the Middle East?”

People shouted “Hell No!”

“Do we believe in it here?” asked Press

“Yes!” screamed his supporters.

After Press had left the podium a woman who identified herself as a realtor, claimed to oppose the mosque because the M.A.S. had overpaid for the site. “Let me get you a better deal!” she pleaded with the demonstrators across the street.

A young man pointed at the mosque supporters across the street. “Unlike these terrorists, I stand in front of you unmasked! This is a war! And we’re all soldiers!” He then praised the burning of the Qu’ran calling it a miracle of free speech and asked the crowd if “we need to see Brooklyn and America raped by people who aren’t from this country?”

The next speaker gave his speech in Russian.

The mood became increasingly vitriolic. A woman with a sign saying “NO MOSQUE 1 GOD” screamed at two Muslim girls with American flags. “Let go of the flag and get back to your own country!” Shouts of “Racist!” from the other side became louder. More police arrived.

Steven Peskin, who lives nearby, stood with the people supporting the mosque. “I don’t think the mosque should be built.” he said. “This is a residential area, and I think it will be too crowded. But I don’t agree with those people. It’s not about Islam and the West. It’s about parking. Why are these people here?”

The rally ended with the loud speakers repeatedly playing an audio clip from 2000, where Muslim American Society’s Mahdi Bray appears to be supporting Hamas and Hezbollah.

Ibrahim Anse, the community center’s project manager, was not surprised by what happened on Sunday. “It’s all politics, and they’re using these people for a public show.” He said that many of the protesters are outsiders brought in by the Brooklyn Tea Party. “The Tea Party are using the people on Voorhies Avenue.”

John Press said that the concerns of the Brooklyn Tea Party are the same as those of the residents on Voorhies Avenue. “We are all worried about people teaching hatred in our communities.”

Press says that the Muslim American Society are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian organization that supports Hamas and Hezbollah. The FBI have found no such links, but Press says that he has his own evidence.

“It does not make us safer to have the vanguard of Muslim conquest in our communities,” he said. “There is a clear and concerted effort to increase the Muslim population in America. These people don’t like us.” He does acknowledge that it is unlikely that the people who demonstrated against him on Sunday, most of whom were women and children, are actual terrorists. “Most Muslims are law abiding citizens. They don’t have the energy to do violent jihad, just like most Christians don’t have the energy to live like Jesus.”

 

Peace Marchers Get Heckled by Locals

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2010 by loonwatch
Residents watch in anger the peace marchers

The proposed mosque in Sheepshead Bay has been attacked from many sides and we have been covering it from the beginning. The scene is getting quite ugly.

Peace march for new mosque gets ugly

by Stephen Witt

A peace march in support of a controversial proposed mosque in Sheepshead Bay turned ugly last Thursday after residents jeered marchers, most of whom were from outside the area.

“This is a Jewish neighborhood — build a mosque in your own neighborhood,” yelled Stan Yunatanov, who lives across the street from the proposed house of worship and cultural center planned for Voorhies Avenue between East 28th and East 29th streets.

Another woman, who refused to give her name, yelled, “[Muslims] don’t love America. They hate America.”

There were no arrests, but tension — which was already high ever since the Muslim American Society purchased the property earlier this year — was definitely of Biblical proportions during the “Children of Abraham Interfaith Peace Walk,” the seventh annual march for the Park Slope-based group.

The peace group originally planned to have its march in Coney Island, but decided to have it in Sheepshead Bay to support the embattled mosque project.

“It’s a show of support for the right of all faiths to worship,” said Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, one of the event organizers and the head of Kolot Chayeinu, a Jewish congregation that holds its services in a Park Slope church.

Read the rest

 

D.O.E. Discriminated, Rules Federal Commission

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2010 by loonwatch
Debbie Almontaser was discriminated against for her religion.Debbie Almontaser

The New York Times reports:

Federal Panel Finds Bias in Ouster of Principal
By Andrea Elliot
Published: March 12, 2010

A federal commission has determined that New York City’s Department of Education discriminated against the founding principal of an Arabic-language public school by forcing her to resign in 2007 following a storm of controversy driven by opponents of the school.

Acting on a complaint filed last year by the principal, Debbie Almontaser, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that the department “succumbed to the very bias that creation of the school was intended to dispel and a small segment of the public succeeded in imposing its prejudices on D.O.E. as an employer,” according to a letter issued by the commission on Tuesday.

The commission said that the department had discriminated against Ms. Almontaser, a Muslim of Yemeni descent, “on account of her race, religion and national origin.”

The findings, which are nonbinding, could mark a turning point in Ms. Almontaser’s battle to reclaim her job as principal of the school, the Khalil Gibran International Academy in Brooklyn.

The commission asked the Department of Education to reach a “just resolution” with Ms. Almontaser and to consider her demands, which include reinstatement to her old job, back pay, damages of $300,000 and legal fees. Should the two sides fail to reach an agreement, the dispute will end up in court, her lawyer said.

Commission officials declined to answer questions about the case, citing federal confidentiality law, but Ms. Almontaser’s lawyer provided a copy of the letter to The New York Times.

“There is no question that this is an important step in the road to her ultimate vindication,” said Alan Levine, Ms. Almontaser’s lawyer. “Up until now, the D.O.E. has really had its way and hasn’t had to answer for its actions.”

In a statement, a lawyer for the city disputed the commission’s findings.

The Department of Education “in no way discriminated against Ms. Almontaser and she will not be reinstated,” said Paul Marks, the city’s deputy chief of labor and employment law in the Law Department. “If she continues to pursue litigation, we will vigorously defend against her groundless allegations.”

The controversy surrounding the dual-language school began in early 2007, shortly after the city announced that Ms. Almontaser, a longtime teacher, would lead it. A group of opponents, including conservative commentators and a City University trustee, mounted a campaign against the school and Ms. Almontaser, claiming that she carried a militant Islamic agenda.

Despite Ms. Almontaser’s longstanding reputation as a moderate Muslim, her critics succeeded in recasting her as a “9/11 denier” and a “jihadist.”

The conflict came to a head that August, when Ms. Almontaser’s opponents, who had formed the Stop the Madrassa Coalition, asserted that she was connected to T-shirts bearing the words “Intifada NYC.” While Ms. Almontaser was on the board of an organization that rented space to the group that distributed the shirts, she was unaware of them, she said. (The commission determined that she had no connection to the T-shirts.)

Nonetheless, in response to mounting inquiries about the shirts, the Department of Education pressured her to give an interview to The New York Post, she said. In that interview, with a department employee listening in, she explained that the root of the word intifada meant “shaking off,” but that it had acquired other connotations because of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle.

The next day, The Post published the article under the headline “City Principal Is ‘Revolting’ — Tied to ‘Intifada NYC’ Tee Shirts,” stating that Ms. Almontaser had “downplayed the significance” of the T-shirts. (Federal judges later issued a ruling — related to a lawsuit brought by Ms. Almontaser — stating that The Post had reported her words “incorrectly and misleadingly.”)

It was The Post’s article, the commission wrote in its letter this week, that prompted the Department of Education to force Ms. Almontaser to resign. (City officials have said that she resigned voluntarily.)

“Significantly, it was not her actual remarks, but their elaboration by the reporter — creating waves of explicit anti-Muslim bias from several extremist sources — that caused D.O.E. to act,” the commission’s letter said.

Pressure soon mounted for Ms. Almontaser to step down. Randi Weingarten, the head of the teacher’s union, published a letter in The Post that was sharply critical of Ms. Almontaser. She finally resigned on Aug. 10, under pressure from the mayor’s office, she said. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced the resignation on his radio show, saying, “she’s certainly not a terrorist,” while adding that she was “not all that media savvy, maybe.”

Ms. Almontaser continued working with the department in an administrative job, at her principal’s salary of about $120,000, but that job was eliminated and she was demoted.

The lawsuit that she filed against the city, claiming that her First Amendment rights had been violated because she was forced to resign after saying something controversial, was dismissed. She is appealing that decision.

A lawyer for the Stop the Madrassa Coalition said he found the commission’s determination predictable. “I think the E.E.O.C. is constitutionally constructed to find discrimination in a high-profile case,” said the lawyer, David Yerushalmi.

But the development struck other lawyers as surprising. Bill Lann Lee, a labor-law expert in San Francisco, said the commission rarely issued such rulings, and so its decision might help Ms. Almontaser if she pursued a discrimination lawsuit.

“The courts tend to consider what the E.E.O.C. finds,” he said, adding that “the courts know generally that these findings are very rare, so if there is such a finding, there’s a general belief among lawyers and judges that there may be something there.”

Jenny Anderson and Jennifer Medina contributed reporting.

Big ups to the E.E.O.C.  Way to be on the ball on this one.

 

Ignorance and Fear: Residents Fear Planned Mosque in Sheepshead Bay

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on January 14, 2010 by loonwatch

mosque

Some crazy comments by ill informed and ignorant people about Islam and a proposed Mosque that will be built in their neighborhood.

Some Residents in Sheepshead Bay Fear Planned Mosque

Racial and religious tensions are flaring in Sheepshead Bay over plans to build a mosque on a residential street.

Opponents say the mosque will lead to traffic and noise problems – but their complaints are littered with anti-Islamic attacks, like one letter to elected officials that said “mosques and Muslim schools preach hatred.”

“There’s a safety issue here. I don’t want my kids walking past it,” said Kathy Cash, 38, a mother of three children who attend Public School 52 around the corner on E. 29th St. “It’s disgusting,” said Cash, “they [Muslims] have no respect.”

“My children are scared and I am too,” said Victor Benari, 56, trying to rally neighbors against the mosque during a civic group meeting on Monday. “This is a security issue.”

The hysterical language startled officials from the mosque, who say their neighbors have no reason to worry.

“It saddens us very much to see our neighbors already agitated about these things,” said Allowey Ahmed, 60, who owns the property and is spearheading the project.

“Our neighbors are very important. We cannot be good Muslims unless we have good relations with our neighbors,” said the native of Yemen who moved to Sheepshead Bay in 1997.

Besides the prayer hall, the project will include a community center with youth programs for the growing number of Arabic-speaking families in Sheepshead Bay.

It would be affiliated with the Muslim American Society, a national organization, which runs another facility in Bath Beach.

Other opponents distanced themselves from the hateful language some of their neighbors used.

“I don’t agree with how they presented us. I don’t have a problem with it being a mosque,” said Grigory Kalman, 54, a computer programmer who lives on E. 28th St.

Still, he’s fighting the project because he says it will be noisy and make traffic chaotic on the block.

“This is a quiet residential street, but who knows how bad it will become,” said Kalman.

To calm fears, Ahmed said the Muslim center will not broadcast the daily call to prayer heard at other mosques five times a day.

“We are keen to not disturb the neighbors,” he said.

Councilman Lew Fidler (D-Sheepshead Bay) denounced the stereotyping by the project’s foes.

“I understand they’re uncomfortable. Our emotions are so high and our concerns for safety are so real,” Fidler said, “but to suggest that any mosque that is going to be built is a haven for terrorism or a pulpit for hate before they even build the foundation is simply just over the top.”

Construction is currently stalled because the city Buildings Department rejected plans for a 4-story structure in August, but Ahmed said work would begin “in a couple of months.”