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Local Civic Group Against Proposed Mosque Near World Trade Center Site

Don McCallian of United Forties (Photo: Luke Adams)

April 24, 2011 By Christian Murray

A Sunnyside/Woodside civic group is about to begin a petition to call on the New York City Council to come out against the building of a mosque near ground zero.

The petition was proposed by Don McCallian, president of the United 40s Civic Association, after one of the association’s members, who lost a loved one in 9/11, called the mosque a “victory site for the terrorists.”

McCallian, who spoke at the group’s monthly meeting 10 days ago, said that “we need a massive campaign to stop this,” including going to many of the neighborhood groups to sign on to the petition. Asked what the petition letter would say, he said: “We don’t support the mosque in that location.”

Jimmy Van Bramer was on hand when the discussion took place, but said he needed to know all the facts and have a meeting on the topic before coming out with a position on it.

The proposed mosque, which has been the subject of some heated debate for some time, would be a part of a 13-story Muslim community center to be located two blocks from the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan.

It would replace an existing 1850s Italianate-style building that was being used as a Burlington Coat Factory before it was damaged in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

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45 Comments

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46th

I’m relieved to find that the majority of people commenting here seem like reasonable, intelligent and decent people. And thank you sartke, Conrad and Holier-Than-Thou in particular.

Were there to be any reasoning with Raquel (et al), I’d suggest she simply replace “Muslim” with “black” to understand how insufferably bigoted she sounds to the rest of us.

But I do feel I have to chime in and second Atom on Bramer as coward.

VERY disappointed, Jimmy.

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R.

@ Queens is the new Brooklyn is the new Manhattan: Hear, hear.

@ Raquel: Your words dismay me. Is it fair to hold all residents of the Iberian Peninsula guilty for the crimes of Cortés? Is it fair to think of Irish Catholics, or Roman Catholics as monolithic groups who act only at the behest of the Pope?

You claim you are not xenophobic or racist. But isn’t it unreasonable to view Islam as a monolithic religion when there are so many geographical variations? Isn’t it also unreasonable to project the violent ideology of a small number of Muslim terrorists (less than 1%) on every member of the religion? I would submit that it is unreasonable to make these assertions.

But I’m going to go ahead and guess that you speak out of fear and a lack of familiarity with Muslims rather than out of xenophobia. To you I would say, learn more. From my vantage, Muslim immigrants to this country are subjected to the same unfair suspicion leveled at Latinos, or more. Muslims in America are today’s Irish, today’s Italians, today’s Chinese people, today’s Jewish immigrants. Like Latinos, Irish, Italians and Chinese and Jewish people, Muslims come here to make an honest living in a peaceful, prosperous country. Like these other groups, Muslims have been accused of being involved in all kinds of crazy conspiracies. It’s unfair, immoral and scurrilous. Let’s remember that our families are from somewhere else, too, and that our ancestors were bullied and persecuted just as Muslims and Latinos are today. Let’s remember to be empathetic.

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SuperWittySmitty

What a dumb idea. Do you blame all Germans for the Holocaust? The majority of Muslims are friendly to America and its values. They are not terrorists.

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Robert M

I can vouch for Donald McCalian’s integrity and he has quietly helped people of all faiths and this neighborhood as a volunteer for many years. He is not a bigot, if that means he opposes the rights of others based on origin, faith or race. He is putting his own name out there and taking the heat, for what many think but are fearful to say, to suggest a petition. It seems only concerned with the ground zero facility, not any other locale. There are some bigots who oppose Cordoba House as part of animus towards Muslims, but by his long-term actions, McCallian is not one of them.

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JGB

Holier-Than-Thou:

“She” (presumably, it’s a she) posts here a lot, and, based on the content of those posts, she is indeed demonstrably a bigot, with the added dimension as displayed in this thread of being apparently incapable of understanding even the fundamentals of either sharia law or the US Constitution. But she’s also expressed a desire in her previous posts to move out of the neighborhood, so perhaps we’ll all luck up.

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Lucky Lu

I had been mulling over becoming involved in United 40s, but after reading about this asinine petition McCallian wants to put forward, I have zero interest in participating. Let me know when there is an organization that is actually focused on the improvement of live in Sunnyside.

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Holier-Than-Thou

Raquel I don’t know if you’re racist. I just read what you write and think you’re a bigot. What is your opinion of your Muslim neighbors? Not psychopathic terrorist murderers but your next door neighbor? Your corner grocer? The guy behind the counter at Mangal Kebab? Are they calling for sharia law? I know some areas in the U.S. that are predominantly Muslim do just that and I wholeheartedly disagree and will fight any such thing happening. But there are more moderates in all religions than fanatics (except Branch Davidians, Jonestowners and the people who killed themselves after a comet flew by). I don’t support the people who want to build the mosque but I support the freedoms given to American citizens by our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I’m now going to burn the flag and sing “Give Peace a Chance.”

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raquel

No, a “victory” for the terrorists is going like lambs to the slaughter while they hide under the First Amendment. The Constitution is not a suicide pact!

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Atom

What nonsense. By this logic, we should remove army recruiting stations from anywhere near the Oklahoma City site. This is discrimination and hate mongering. If that area is zoned for a religious institution to be there, then it is just fine to be there.
A “victory” for the terrorists would be to begin eroding the principle’s this nation was founded on, among them freedom of religion and separation of church and state. 20 Muslim dudes doing a mass killing doesn’t make all Muslims terrorists just like Oklahoma City didn’t make all army vets terrorists. Destroying out values and core principle’s over it is exactly the wrong thing to do.
And Jimmy Van Bramer is a coward for trying to see which way the wind blows before actually standing up for what is right.

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raquel

I notice that the usual suspects like throwing the words “racist” and “xenophobe” around because people refuse to sing kumbaya and believe that we are in real danger from within. And it is called sharia law!

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Marilyn

I support the right of Don Mc Callian or anyone else to express his opinions and sign petitions but according to their own statement the United 40s has these official goals:

The United Forties Civic Association, Inc. is a group of concerned citizens residing in the Laurel Hill, Sunnyside and Woodside areas of Queens, New York, dedicated to the preservation of the Quality of Life in these neighborhoods.

I don’t see how this association can concern itself as a group with what is or is not built two blocks from Ground Zero. Certainly the quality of life in Sunnyside/Woodside demands tolerance and cooperation among our residents of many races, ethnicities and religions.

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Marilyn

I support the right of Don Mc Callian or anyone else to express his opinions and sign petitions but according to their own statement the United 40s has these official goals:

<>

I don’t see how this association can concern itself as a group with what is or is not built two blocks from Ground Zero. Certainly the quality of life in Sunnyside/Woodside demands tolerance and cooperation among our residents of many races, ethnicities and religions.

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allow_me_to_retort

@ queens is

Typical liberal tactic. Just call anybody who disagrees with you a racist or xenophobe, any opinion contrary to your own must be “hate.” Nice straw man argument. I never even suggested that every muslim was a terrorist but apparently that thought crossed YOUR mind. I believe in psychology it’s called projection.

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local

I’m not going to jump into the fray here, since Conrad, Jodi, Sartke, and others have already spoken up in the name of reason. I will add some historical perspective though, from when Jews were the feared group, not Muslims: http://www.forward.com/articles/129998/
Also, more succintly: http://www.forward.com/articles/129826/

45th & Skillman makes a good point (I’m sorry, you’re right!), but my question is why on earth a civic group that’s supposed to represent the local community is taking a stand on this issue at all? That seems way, way out of line. “‘We’ need a massive campaign to stop this”? Who is the we? Certainly not Sunnyside as a whole, as these comments make quite clear.

Jimmy Van Bramer would sure lose my vote for getting behind this misguided effort.

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Holier-Than-Thou

Let’s install Muslim detectors in and around Ground Zero. Constitution schmonstitution! Jesus may have taught that “Love thy neighbor” stuff but surely not within a mile radius of Ground Zero. And what’s all this harping on slavery? In one of those 10 commandments your slave got a day off on the Sabbath. And how can we keep all those Japanese tourists from visiting Hawaii? Oh, and I’m right and you’re wrong.

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sunnysider

I do not want to get politial with this web site that is doing a great job of printing all of our comments. I guess we are all very caring people in our town with varioius opinion as wide as a smile. So I will leave it there.

I do not want to express any further comments but If the united 40s feel like expressing their opinion we are sill a free country and thank you to the sunnyside post web site for printing our opinions

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Queens is the new Brooklyn is the new Manhattan

HAHA LMFAO. yeah I’ll go sing songs with hippies and sing John Lennon songs and you can actually make the world a worse place with your hate and xenophobia. Way to generalize and paint every person of the Muslim faith into a terrorist.

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allow_me_to_retort

@ queens is…

Muslim terrorists butcher fellow muslims and destroy their mosques all the time. That there was a mosque in the WTC means nothing more than that they are willing to murder their own people and destroy their own places of worship as long as they can kill “infidels” in the process. Maybe you can hold hands with some fellow hippies and sing John Lennon songs somewhere and make the jihadists love us.

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Queens is the new Brooklyn is the new Manhattan

@allow_me_to_retort

Actually, most people do not know this because most people are ignorant of American hisotry, let alone the history of Islam or Spain. Once again, considering there was a mosque inside the WTC, this argument is pointless. Check your head.

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allow_me_to_retort

The mosque people gave their game away when they originally named it Cordoba House. Anyone with a cursory knowledge of the history of islam knows that Cordoba, Spain is synonymous with the islamic caliphate and domination of Spain until 1492. Muslims know this; airhead American liberals do not (or refuse to).

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raquel

43rd and 43rd, enjoy your martyrdom! I will quote from Maimonides: The Law was meant to live by, not to die by.”

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43rd and 43rd

Conrad: “The real story here is how far behind the news the United Forties Civic Association is. I look forward to their future press releases regarding their thoughts on the Wall Street bailout, President Bush invading Iraq, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and Chancellor Hitler’s rise in Germany.”

Thank you for the humor – my thoughts exactly!

Raquel: “an exception that proves the rule” actually an exception disproves the rule and makes it more of a guideline I suppose.

“The only paths to victory in conflict is to embrace thy enemy with love or to obliterate them.”
So, which will you choose?

I choose to embrace, even if it means being injured or killed by my enemy since in the end my choice serves the will of God.

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raquel

Krissi, the exception proves the rule – and once again Egypt’s Coptic minority lives in terror.

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Krissi

And to think I was considering joining the United 40s. WELL NOT ANY MORE! I lost 2 friends on 9/11 and they would have been SHOCKED that their deaths were being used as an excuse for more hate.

America (Sunnyside included) is a mix of all ethnicities and denominations of religion. By denying a certain group of Americans their right to build what their institutions, THAT is what is making the “terrorists” win.

Raquel – Did you miss the Egyptian Muslims forming a human chain to protect the Christians during service last Christmas? And the Christians doing the same during the Egyptian protests so the Muslims could pray peacefully? There are good and bad people of all kinds.

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raquel

To “Queens is the New Brooklyn” – I see that the Religion of Peace has struck again in Baghdad against Christian churches. Yup, anybody who has problems with it is an “Islamophobe”. Nice try.

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Sunny Blue

I was going to respond to the article with some pithy comments, a few bon mots and a mention of the Constitution…of the U.S. that is, not mine. But then I read 45&Skillman’s post and thought better of it.

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Sunnyside Post

In response to 45th and Skillman…

I appreciate your comment.

This site has no intention of becoming a political forum — especially with topics that are outside of this neighborhood. That will always be the case.

The only reason the story was covered was because a local civic group is looking to circulate a petition.

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45th and Skillman

I’ll preface this by saying that I am in no way affiliated with this website.

That said: I hope that this site doesn’t get hijacked by any politics that aren’t local.

This conversation, for example, doesn’t have anything to do with Sunnyside.

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Conrad

But don’t you all realize that the Burlington Coat Factory shop downtown is a sacred site! If the terrorists take over the Burlington Coat Factory, it’s a victory!

As for slave trading, that was fairly non-denominational. And if you want to start talking about slave trading, you’re just asking for someone to bring Jefferson, Washington etc etc into it, and what’s the point in this discussion?

The real story here is how far behind the news the United Forties Civic Association is. I look forward to their future press releases regarding their thoughts on the Wall Street bailout, President Bush invading Iraq, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and Chancellor Hitler’s rise in Germany.

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Queens is the new Brooklyn is the new Manhattan

No, actually it does work Raquel. Especially when the issue deals with ethnocentric attitudes and behaviors. Congrats on joining the ranks! Almost every nation on Earth has a history of slave trading in it’s history. Once again, I can’t even believe people are arguing over this “mosque” aka Community Center when there was a Muslim prayer space inside the WTC.

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raquel

Samuello, you sound very ignorant! What pluralistic Islamic country are you talking about? Saudi Arabia? Iran? Since you think we are “ignorant Americans” feel free to park it with people who are intelligent enough to share the same space that you do! As for accusations of “racism”, it was Moslems who were the big slave traders. Yup, when you don’t agree with somebody, call them a racist! That no longer works.

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Queens is the new Brooklyn is the new Manhattan

Here’s a simple fact that will put an end to this washed out argument:

THERE WAS A MOSQUE INSIDE THE WORLD TRADE CENTER
http://www.businessinsider.com/there-already-was-a-ground-zero-mosque-2010-9

Sorry, but the 9/11 catastrophe was not exclusive to Christians and Jews. Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, etc. have all shared grief and in this tragedy as well.

“- to give in to the people who want the mosque – all in the name of “tolerance” of course except that it is not safe to be a Jew, a Christian or a dissident Moslem in Moslem dominated countries.”

Yeah well this America and we’re supposedly better than every other nation in the world, right? So why don’t we start by not being the racist idiots that we are and actually uphold the 1st Amendment of religious tolerance? Isn’t that supposed to be one our core values as a nation? It’s funny how people want the Constitution to be upheld until they don’t.

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Jodi

Sartke, I’ll sign your petition. Don sounds like a Class A idiot!

Sunnysider, how incredibly insensitive of you and all others to state that it’s insensitive for Muslims to build a mosque near ground zero. This was a horrible act done by extremists who don’t represent any type of majority. I guess you forgot or don’t care that Muslims were killed in the WTC as well. I spent a lot of time studying Park 51, what others choose to call the “ground zero mosque”, and the”sensitivity” argument is a cloak for ignorance and hate.

Randall, the mosque we’re talking about is here in NYC, which is part of America where we have a constitution that spells out this thing called freedom of religion. What is done in other countries, while we may not always agree, is in another country with another constitution. Stop mixing up issues! That argument too holds no validity.

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grimpen_mire

They may have the right to build that mosque, but no matter how they spin it, it is a deliberate adding of insult to the injury of 9-11. Of course, all the gullible politically correct, kumbaya types will take obediently accept anything that the mosque builders say at face value.

They like to say it’s about “interfaith dialogue” but then call anybody who disagrees with or criticizes them “islamophobic” or “racist.” Some dialogue.

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Long time resident

“Victory site for the terrorists.” Oh my goodness. While I understand emotions run high for people who lost loved ones on 9/11, I wouldn’t be shocked if most of the folks who spouted this kind of tripe were also birthers.

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Samuello

Randall,
Obviously you are another ignorant American who has never been to any modern secular Muslim country, and talk without any real facts. You have no idea what you are talking about, I think you should go back home and keep watching worthless TV shows that are called “News”. I regret seeing that I share the same neighborhood as you and people like yourself.

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sunnysider

Exuse me Sartke, the issue is the sensitivity to the ground zero site which is holy ground to the families who lost loves there. I think you are pretty intelligent about this. I thought this issue died but not so. I agree that it is not right to build a muslin center in the area which is very sensitive to the families involved. they have plenty of other areas to build his or to buy a propery. However yoiu are entilted to your opinion. Happy Holidays to you

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sartke

Why aren’t these people protesting the many Islamic centers and mosques in Sunnyside, Woodside, Astoria and Jackson Heights? Shouldn’t they be more afraid of the terrorist threat in their own backyard? Oh wait then they would have to confront real life people instead of vague, abstract ideas of people.

Anyone interested in signing my petition? It reads: “I don’t support Don McCallian living in New York City”. I personally feel like it’s dangerous to live so close to racist idiots.

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sunnysider

Isdra, Their is suppose to be a dog park near the skillman ave 43rd street park. If you look under one of the dog civic groups you may find some information about it

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Randall

I am glad that people have not forgotten the awful act of war that was committed against us on 9/11. I will bet that Van Bramer will do whatever Christine Quinn asks him to do – to give in to the people who want the mosque – all in the name of “tolerance” of course except that it is not safe to be a Jew, a Christian or a dissident Moslem in Moslem dominated countries.

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Iskra

Can this local civic group give us a proper fenced-in dog park instead? That would be awesome.

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