“The feeling in the community is we don’t want them there — that’s the bottom line,” said Bill Owens, a 34-year resident who made an appearance at yesterday’s rally to reiterate his opposition.
The group said the move was prompted by the heated response to the planned conversion of a former convent owned by St. Margaret Mary R.C. Church into a mosque and community center. (But the church has already changed its mind about selling to Muslims)
“The reaction to the sale of the convent hurt us,” (Who cares?) said Hesham El-Meligy of the Arab Muslim American Federation, who estimates there are about 30,000 Muslims on Staten Island. “We are Staten Islanders. We have the right to have a house of worship anywhere of our choosing according to the law of the land. We don’t want a privilege that no one else has.” (And we don’t want a breeding ground for terrorists that nobody in the neighborhood wants)
The hope is that an association will not only provide services to the Muslim community but that it will be an educational resource for those who wish to learn more about Islam. (Oh, CRAP)
Had the organization already been in existence, El-Meligy believes there would have been less opposition to the Muslim American Society’s plan to build a house of worship. (MUSLIM AMERICAN SOCIETY HAS KNOWN LINKS TO TERROR GROUPS)
In May, residents learned that the Rev. Keith Fennessy, the pastor of St. Margaret Mary R.C. Church, had entered into an agreement with MAS, a national nonprofit organization, to sell the parish’s empty convent for $750,000. Because the contract was drafted quietly, without input from residents, and because of traffic, parking and other concerns, hundreds of area residents have expressed their opposition to the plan.
Since then, Father Fennessy has written a statement withdrawing his support for the sale. He is one of five members of the parish’s board of trustees, whose vote is the next step in determining whether the deal will go through, as stipulated in the contract.
Some residents have cited a sensitivity to 9/11 and a fear that MAS is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been questioned for terrorist practices. “We’re calling on the archbishop to sign off against this contract. That’s all he has to do. Why is the Catholic Church doing all this running around, ‘We’re studying it, we’re studying it’? What is there to study? Why is the Catholic Church dealing with terror?”
The disagreement expressed by residents has been perceived as hatred and bigotry by Muslims, who said they see their constitutional rights being trampled upon.
“We need to put an end to this now,” said Islam Allan, 16, a student at Susan E. Wagner High School, who started a Facebook group supporting the mosque. “We want everyone to understand that this isn’t a small issue. This is an issue of human rights, American rights, my rights. … I and others like me should not have to suffer, or be denied the right to pray.” (When Christians can build a church in your countries, you can make demands, otherwise get out of our Judeo-Christian country)
Lana Safah, a spokeswoman for MAS, which organized yesterday’s rally, lamented the proceedings of the June 9 Midland Beach Civic Association Meeting, which was supposed to be a chance for MAS to talk with their potential future neighbors. She said that opportunity was quashed when anti-Muslim groups — such as the founders of jihadwatch.org and AtlasShrugs.com, as well as Coptic Christians from Egypt, who are a minority often targeted in their country, stormed the meeting.
“By the end of the meeting, the outsiders had done their job — they had sown the seeds of doubt, and created fear through misinformation and bigotry, and by attempting to tie MAS to terrorism and foreign entities,” Ms. Safah said. (Not misinformation, truth and hatred of Muslim terrorists)