Skip to comments.Another Tack: A masjid grows in Brooklyn
Posted on 07/10/2008 1:35:03 PM PDT by forkinsocket
I was Brooklyn bound - or so I thought. I took the subway to see a fellow alumna of New York's High School of Music and Art (as today's LaGuardia High School for the Arts was then called). I looked forward to the nostalgic reunion. I hadn't been in NYC for ages, and catching up with an old classmate seemed an indispensable component of walking down memory lane.
What's more, Kathy still lives at the same address in the cozy middle-class neighborhood where I sometimes visited her way back then. It was common for the house-proud Irish to keep property in the family, and hence I'd soon reenter the two-story red-brick home in whose wood-paneled rec-room we occasionally whiled away hours.
But when I climbed up the grimy station stairs and surveyed the street, I suspected that some supernatural time-and-space warp had transported me to Islamabad. This couldn't be Brooklyn. Women strode attired in hijabs and male passersby sported all manner of Muslim headgear and long flowing tunics. Kathy met me at the train and astounded me by pointing out long kurta shirts as distinguished from a salwar kameez. She couldn't help becoming an expert.
She's now a member of a fast-dwindling minority because "people are running away. We're among the last holdouts of our generation. My kids have fled."
Pakistani and Bangladeshi groceries lined the main shopping drag, and everywhere stickers boldly beckoned: "Discover Jesus in the Koran." An unremarkable low-slung building on the corner of Kathy's block was now dominated by an oversized green sign identifying it as Masjid Nur al-Islam (the Light of Islam Mosque) and announcing that "only Allah is worthy of worship and Muhammad is his LAST prophet." Here too Christians were urged to "turn to the Koran" if they were "genuinely faithful to Jesus."
It wasn't hard to identify the remaining non-Muslim residences. Kathy's was typical. A huge American flag fluttered demonstratively in the manicured front yard, accompanied by a large cross on the door and an assortment of patriotic/jingoistic banners.
"We're besieged," she explained. "Making a statement is about all we can do. They aren't delighted to see our flag wave. This is enemy territory."
LEST I judge her paranoid, Kathy began regaling me with what she knew about the mosque a few doors down her street, still as tree-lined as I remember but somehow less pretty and tidy, even vaguely grubby.
Kathy had compiled a bulging dossier of press clippings and computer printouts about the masjid that grew in a once heavily Jewish area. Until the mid-1990s, its imam was the late Egyptian-educated Gulshair el-Shukrijumah, dispatched by the Saudis as a Wahhabi missionary in 1985 and financed by them thereafter. His disciple, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, an explosives specialist, possibly helped assemble the bomb detonated in the '93 World Trade Center attack. He was convicted of plotting to blow up the UN, FBI headquarters and the Holland and Lincoln tunnels. Gulshair acted as interpreter for Omar Abdel-Rahman, the "Blind Sheikh" now serving life for the first WTC bombing, conspiring to use explosives at other NYC landmarks and colluding to assassinate US politicians.
Nabbed operational commander of the 9/11 plot, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, fingered Gulshair's eldest son Adnan as having been designated by al-Qaida and personally approved by Osama Bin-Laden to lead new terror assaults and serve as successor to Muhammad Atta, with whom Adnan was connected. Adnan received flight training and is dubbed "Jaffar the pilot." He was likewise linked to "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla, Hamas and al-Qaida fund-raiser Adham Hassoun, and terrorist Imran Mandhai (convicted of conspiring to bomb the National Guard armory, South Florida electrical substations, Jewish-owned businesses and community centers, and Mount Rushmore).
Kathy's ex-neighbor is now a fugitive and subject of a worldwide FBI manhunt. Adnan's brother Nabil, incidentally, uploaded to his Web page an image of Jerusalem ablaze with the caption: "Al Kuds, we are coming."
BUT OF more immediate concern to Kathy and the few leftover neighborhood natives is the "in-your-face insolence of the immigrants." For years the mosque had been calling the faithful to prayers via a rooftop loudspeaker five times daily. Police intervention persuaded the imam to omit the pre-dawn sonorous summons. Catholic Kathy knows all about "Allahu akhbar" and how the muezzin intones it.
"I'm not a bigot," she stressed repeatedly. "The Jewish community which once flourished here was so different. This was always a pluralistic live-and-let-live section. The jihadists, however, aren't here to coexist but to conquer. The Jewish community here was so different. They weren't on the offensive. They just wanted to be left alone."
She recalled her brother Eddie, whose best childhood friend was the son of a nearby Orthodox rabbi. During his teens Eddie was regularly recruited by his chum to the minyan until he was roused too early one winter morning and exclaimed: "What do you want from me? I'm not even Jewish!"
"This kind of a relationship," Kathy commented, "just isn't possible these days. Muslims call us infidels and want all infidels out. We're threatened."
On the way back, I decided to photograph the masjid, sensing it could make a story. Kathy became frantic. "Don't you dare," she almost yelled. As I slipped the camera back into my handbag, she explained that several weeks before my arrival two journalists, Bos Smith and Paul Williams, HAD photographed a similar Brooklyn mosque, Masjid al-Takwa. They were grabbed by 20 ninja-uniformed men, shoved into the mosque cellar, held captive and roughly interrogated by the group's henna-bearded leader, Ali Kareem. He released them only after they fibbed that they were interested in converting to Islam. On a subsequent visit to the site they were accosted again and an attempt was made to seize and break their camera.
"I don't know who may be watching us now," Kathy warned.
Nevertheless, I perused the notice board near the entrance and learned that enrollment is on for the mosque school (where Gulshair once taught) and that if I hang around I could hear one Abu Yousuf lecture on "protecting yourself from Shaytan (Satan) this summer."
Alternatively, I could seek sanctuary from Shaytan in Israel. It suddenly seemed way safer than certain Brooklyn nooks.
How did they all get permission to come here? And if they are so anti-American, why are we not helping them to leave?
I weep for my country.
“How did they all get permission to come here?”
Courtesy of your government.
Ask Ted Kennedy.
Because in America, they have the right to hate America. Unfortunately, in America, those who love America, have the right to kill their unborn. Therefore, America will soon be filled with children who hate America. Simple.
one word, multiculturalism.
Yep, they’re on step three - establish a Muslim enclave within the infidel nation and work to maintain isolation and differences with the population as a whole. Step four involves using the infidel nation’s cultural and governmental mechanisms against the infidel himself - a good example is the current low-level jihad taking place in Canada against Mark Steyn and others for “hate speech” against Moslems. Step five is violent protest against encursions by outsiders against the infidel - which has taken place in France as “disaffected youths” went on a crime and car-burning spree two years ago, or the Dutch found out when a filmmaker decided to show Islam as it is. Step six is insistence upon Islamic law and culture as equal to the culture and law of the infidel nation.
Actually, from a military science viewpoint, the Moslems are stellar strategists. Conquering a nation with glacial slowness is brilliant. If the nation at some step in the process decides to wake aggressive war against its Moslem inhabitants, that Moslem community can claim (variously, depending on the situation) racism, genocide, religious war, or just plain unfairness, and the rest of the unaware world will condemn the actions.
Steps seven and eight are usually too horrible to contemplate, at least for those who chose not to convert.
Islam is already overstepping its welcome in Europe, and elsewhere, and the results for them won't be pretty.
Yes, but we are an armed citizenry.
Not in Brooklyn. You won’t find Muslims in traditional garb and mosques in the rural areas where we take our guns, religion and patriotism seriously.
Nor does it seem to matter that they are overreaching in Europe. It seems that the governments of those countries are encouraging them.
Post 9/11, the woman at the American embassy in Saudi Arabia in charge of visas objected to increased scrutiny imposed on visa-seekers in the Kingdom. Her direct quote was "People gotta have their visas." No, they don't lady.
Post 9/11, we should have imposed a moratorium on immigration and visas from certain countries until we could better sort out our vetting process. Why this never happened is beyond me.
Sarah - Nice job with the article. It seems like you are on your way to understand religious and cultural differences. Instead of writing one article, you could have written 4 separate articles:
One could’ve been about Muslims. You could have shown how all Muslims are the same. Terrorist!
Did you also know that Bangladeshis and Pakistanis are very different (language and culture)? Not all Bangladeshi are Muslims. Bangladeshi culture isn’t the same as Muslim culture. Additionally, you could have written about how they came to this country without doing much work. That is, they didn’t have to kill the natives for land and food like some earlier Europeans did.
Finally, you could’ve written about Arabs separately. From what I understand they also come in different religion.
Sarah - I’m one of your problems. I was raised here in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, I can’t claim any part of it because I was born in a Bangladeshi family and i also happened to be Muslim.
Normally, I don’t get involved in this kind of discussion, but couldn’t help. I have more friends that are Jewish then any other groups. Not only just friends, but some best friends. It hurts read such article. Im no journalist. However, the way you mention names of a few terrorists in the article, youre making it seem like Bengalis are somehow associated with terrorism. If you dont like something about this specific group(e.g. theyre brown), write about them, but dont put them in the mix with others. Ive been to a few Bengali Mosques myself. The reason Im calling Bengali Mosque is because 98% of attendees are Bengali. I know that theyre working hard with other religious institutions in the neighborhood to make sure theyre understood. Im a critique of some of the Mosques for not reaching out enough to the neighbors, but Ive never heard them speaking critically of the neighbors or other religions. If anything, they speak about creating harmony. I dont know for fact, but Im sure some people in the Mosque may feel critical of other religions. However, I know for fact that they never promote bigotry. Why label everyone? My father who is 74y/o goes to a Mosque because thats the only social venue for him. Im grateful for its existence.
I hope youll spend lot more time understanding the differences between different groups of people and culture and certainly read more about American history - how people came to this country that you claim to be yours? Lack of knowledge gives someone right to learn about others not be ignorant. Im sure many readers love your article I dont hate it. You represent many people who dont like others because of differences. These people have similar mentality as klux klux klan and Nazi. Theyre also popular at times. I understand you and I also understand that people are different. I embrace and respect differences. However, I dont respect ignorance. Its very difficult to attain social harmony by promoting bigotry not that you care to believe.
I dont come across bigotry may be because I live among mix group of friends. However, it hurts when people like you call names to my mother when she walks down the streets or takes public transportation wearing her traditional clothing.
I hope you’ll become an informed journalist; and when you do, you’ll be great! I trust that youll promoting social harmony.