Queens, Brooklyn residents voice opinion on Islamic Cultural Center
by Jeffrey Kuntz
Aug 27, 2010 | 11574 views | 1 1 comments | 116 116 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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German Vazquez, 26, delivery driver from Ridgewood.
Voices supporting and opposing construction of an Islamic cultural center and mosque two blocks from Ground Zero made headlines this month. On Sunday morning, thousands of protesters from both sides of the debate assembled in lower Manhattan to make their opinions heard.

But what's the word in Brooklyn and Queens? We hit the streets to ask residents whether or not they support the proposed Islamic center at 45-51 Park Place and why.

German Vazquez, 26, delivery driver from Ridgewood:

“In the city there are a lot of people, so we should allow it. But I don't agree with it. Not so close [to the WTC site] anyway. If I lived in Manhattan, I would disagree even more.

Renetta Welty, 39, advertising recruiter from Brooklyn Heights:

“From what I know of the Muslim faith it doesn't mean what people are saying – it means peace and trying to make the world a better place. Unfortunately, there are extremists in every faith. If the United States wants to continue down its path of freedom of expression and freedom of religion, we have got to allow that.”

Paula Tirado, 40, vendor from Bergen Beach:

“They killed a lot of people. They shouldn't be there. Why do you want to go to a place where your own people did that? They should think before they build [the culture center and mosque]. Somewhere else, but not there.”

L.S., 56, custodian from Bedford-Stuyvesant:

“I just say let God sort it out. America is a country that is supposed to let people believe what they want. We all know what it's really about – economics. Let God sort it out. He knows what's best.”

Gladys Perez, 67, retiree from Williamsburg:

“I don't like that idea because it brings back many memories of the people that died. Maybe in some other place, but not there.”

Damon Orsulich, 33, urban miner (aka “sandhog”) from Williamsburg:

“I think they should put it there. 99 percent of Muslims are hardworking people. They are part of New York. Look at the average Muslim – they get up and go to work like everybody else.”

Lisa Espinal, 31, receptionist from Williamsburg:

“It's like a betrayal to the people that died and to their families if they build the mosque. If the city allows it, they aren't paying respect to what happened on 9-11.”

Alicia Papanek, 22, restaurant worker from Bushwick:

“I'm sure it's valuable to argue about it, but the whole putting a mosque by the World Trade Center? It wasn't Islam that attacked the World Trade Center, it was Osama Bin Laden. I don't think it's a problem or it should have too much controversy about it.”

R. Junat, 30, retailer from Elmhurst:

“I honestly don't believe we – the greater Islamic community – partook in the bombing, so the fact that a mosque is being built there is a matter of cultural pride. Finally, I can say there is somewhere that is well-known, so I am happy. Our culture is not in terrorism.”

P. Singh, 42, truck driver from Jackson Heights:

“They can make it Uptown, Queens, or Brooklyn. $100 million they want to spend. How did the money come? I wouldn't mind if there hadn't been 9-11 over there. But it's U.S. law – if you want to open a church downtown, then you can open one.”

Constantine Makris, 79, retiree from Astoria:

“I am against it because the way things happened, it shouldn't be near the World Trade Center. There was a Greek church there, St. Nicholas and for some reason, they don't want to build it again. The Muslims have no reason to be near the WTC. A lot of people lost their lives when the two buildings came down.”

J. He, 31, shopkeeper from Astoria:

“I think it's a good idea. Maybe it's only me. It is going to be free, right? So that everybody can go there? There are not too many things like that in Manhattan. In New York there are a lot of religions. I go to church. I like church. That's it.”

Paul Lawrence, 74, retiree from Maspeth:

“They shouldn't be there. The people that were lost there feel very bad. Let [the center] move somewhere else. Why do they have to be in that spot? It's in your face. I don't care if they moved 10 blocks away from there, but to do it right there is wrong.”
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August 27, 2010
Yes, allow it.