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Brooklyn Muslims turn vacant Burger King into temporary mosque

This story was first published on the New York Daily News

By Marco Poggio, Doyle Murphy

Muslims are having it their way at a vacated Brooklyn Burger King.

Worshipers in Sheepshead Bay have convened prayer services for the holy month of Ramadan in the former home of the Whopper while they await the finishing touches on a new mosque under construction less than a mile away.

“It’s good,” Allowey Ahmed said of their temporary digs on Knapp St. “It’s where we’re doing our prayers. We’re not bothering anybody. Nobody’s bothering us.”

Ahmed was at the center of a storm four years ago when neighbors learned the Muslim American Society of New York’s Brooklyn-Staten Island chapter planned to build a four-story mosque on his Voorhies St. property.

Opponents complained the extra traffic would overwhelm the neighborhood, and protests sometimes devolved into anti-Islamic rants.

The Muslim American Society eventually downsized the plans for the mosque to three stories and prevailed in a lawsuit that sought to block the construction.

Work is now nearly complete, and Ahmed said they’ve made peace with neighbors.

“We’ve impressed on them that we’re not out to hurt anyone,” he told the Daily News.

Ramadan, a month-long observance in which Muslims fast during daylight hours, began Saturday and ends July 28. The group expects to keep praying in the temporary digs until the new home is finished.

In the rental of the Burger King, first reported by the “Sheepshead Bites” blog, followers cleared away the leftover chairs and laid carpet where adherents kneel and pray.

Most people living near the former fast-food joint said they had no objection to the 60 or so people showing up for daily religious services.

“As long as they don’t bother me, I love everybody,” neighbor Ray Diaz, 46 said. “They should have kept the Burger King, though. I’m always hungry.

It’s nice and quiet, said others.

“As long as it’s not a nightclub, it works for me,” said Nick Fissina, 66, who lives a block away.

Visitors to the mosque said they just want somewhere close to home for prayers.

“The other mosque is far away from here,” said Nervih Sam, 42. “Not everybody has transportation to go.”

Others agreed.

“There is a big community of Muslims over here — people from Yemen, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other nationalities,” Umer Javaid, 27, said. “For Islam it doesn’t matter where you’re from, you are one."


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