Elected officials gather at Islamic Society of Bay Ridge to combat hate

Coming together during a threat of hate.

Borough President Eric Adams joined elected officials and religious leaders on Tuesday, April 3 to combat “Punish a Muslim Day,” a campaign that went viral last month in which letters were circulated in the mail throughout the United Kingdom and online across the globe calling for violence against Muslims, including incentives in the form of points for acts ranging from verbal abuse and assault to murder and bombings.

To address any fear the flyer might have generated and to remind them that their neighbors stand in solidarity with them, Adams and company joined Muslims in prayer at the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, 6807 Fifth Avenue, on Tuesday.

“We were all horrified with the letter that started in the UK and made its way into America through the internet,” said Adams. “Any attack on one religious life is an attack on all religious ways of life. It will start with the Muslim community, end up with the Christians, the Polish, the Jews, so we just want to send a loud message that we stand in unison with you and you are part of not only our Brooklyn family, but our New York family and America’s family. Regardless of what happens in Washington D.C., right here in the borough, we have a welcome mat for all groups.”


Assemblymember Felix Ortiz suggested that the hate stems from the White House.

“With the person who is sitting in Washington and the people across his ideology, I think he has created a very dicey environment to wake up hate in this country,” he told this paper. “He continues to treat immigrants and people of different races and beliefs differently. Some of his followers and others have been quiet but the fact is that they’ve seen a mirror in the White House that reflects them and it gives an opportunity for others like him to stand up to the plate and hate people.”

He also discussed the importance of standing in solidarity at the local mosque.

“It’s important to stand up for our brothers and sisters against hate,” Ortiz continued. “It doesn’t have any place in any neighborhood or community. We must stand up together to ensure that we can fight back hate and have a better understanding about love, how to get together and treat each other with respect. Respect doesn’t cost anything.”

“We are here to also say how horrified and appalled we were when we saw this horrible letter circulated and distributed,” added State Senator Diane Savino. “For those of us that are Christians, as you know, this is the most Holy week in the Christian calendar. It also coincides with Passover this year, so people are pausing all over the world to celebrate their religion. It’s particularly painful for those of us to see that some people are attacking you for your very religion so we come together to say no. Our Muslim brothers and sisters that are here in Brooklyn and Staten Island or any part of New York are a welcome addition to the wonderful fabric to the state.”

Following the visit to the mosque, the officials and leaders visited several local businesses, including Balady Halal Foods.

Councilmember Justin Brannan stressed the importance of letting the Muslim community know that they have neighbors.

“It’s important that the people you represent know where you stand,” he said. “This is a nation of immigrants. Whether that letter was someone’s idea of a sick joke or a hoax, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it exists is the problem and I think [this day] is about solidarity.”

He also had a message for those that started the hate filled initiative.

“It’s just disgusting and sad that people have so much hate in their heart and are so misguided and lost and I think people who try to sow those seeds are trying to tear us apart because they know they can’t change what’s in our heart, which is love,” he said. “It’s sad and enraging that they think that’s something that should exist.”

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