Breaking: Jews Threaten Brooklyn Mosque
New York Jews Respond to Anti-Muslim Harassment During Month of Ramadan, Stand with Neighbors
Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, together with its partner organizations in the Jews Against Islamophobia Coalition (JAIC), strongly condemns the threatening and intimidating targeting of Muslims praying at two mosques on Sunday morning, and calls on New York City leadership to take action to ensure the safety of all Muslims in New York.
In the incident, a car of men bearing Israeli flags, honking horns, and using sirens and flashing lights, drove many times around the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, a local mosque with a large Palestinian membership. The men screamed anti-Arab slurs at worshipers who had gathered for Ramadan prayers at 4 am.
Worshipers had overflowed into the street to pray, because the mosque was filled to capacity with congregation members observing the holiday of Ramadan. As their car approached, the men repeatedly verbally assaulted those assembled in observance.
According to JFREJ Board Member Audrey Sasson, “This is nothing less than direct intimidation of worshipers. During Ramadan, the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge has police presence nearly around the clock. Why did this incident occur during the one window when police were absent? It appears that the people in the car had staked out the area around the mosque and planned their assault to avoid the presence of police.”
Linda Sarsour, Director of the Arab American Association of New York, located in Bay Ridge, said, “Mosque members are in fear as a result of this incident, with deep concern that these men’s actions may portend physical violence in the future.”
It is well known that the mosque has a high population of Palestinian members – one of the largest in New York City. This harassment and intimidation coincide with the escalation of Israeli attacks against Palestinians in Gaza.
There are also reports emerging of a similar assault at the Thayba Islamic Center on Coney Island Avenue.
Rebecca Vilkomerson, Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, states, “We must demonstrate to the New York Muslim community that actions like these will never be tolerated. We stand with the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge and all members of the community who have been targeted for their religion and ethnicity. That many of their members also have family under unrelenting attack by the Israeli armed forces at this time makes this particularly urgent."
Jews for Racial & Economic Justice Director Marjorie Dove Kent adds, “We affirm the right to safety for all our New York City neighbors. To all those impacted by these assaults, we say: we take any attack on your community as seriously as one upon our own.”
“This kind of harassment should never happen, and especially not during the month of Ramadan, at a place of prayer. It is an incredible violation of our Muslim neighbors’ practice,” Kent adds. “Breaking the sacred space of early-morning Ramadan prayers was a heightened violation."
According to Donna Nevel from Jews Say No!, “These latest incidents are part of a larger, structural pattern of anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Arab racism in our city and nationwide. The unlawful surveillance of Muslims by the NYPD and the ongoing assaults upon Muslims and people perceived as Muslim, for example, all create a climate and reality in which attacks like these are made possible. We also know that the Israeli government’s attacks on Palestinians, the United States’ “war on terror,” and anti-Muslim bigotry here in New York are deeply interconnected. We demand a strong statement of condemnation from City leadership and actions demonstrating deep investment in the safety of all Muslims and of all communities in our city.”
We affirm the rights of our Muslim neighbors to live and pray freely and safely in this city.
Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ) and JAIC (a coalition of JFREJ, Jews Say No! and Jewish Voice for Peace) will be attending the interfaith press conference scheduled for noon on Tuesday, July 22nd at the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, 6807 5th Avenue, Brooklyn NY