Some Muslims in Brooklyn are feeling a backlash from the unrest in the Middle East. The NYPD’s Hate Crime Unit is investigating several incidents, including racial slurs and even eggs being thrown at worshippers wearing traditional Muslim clothing.
Muslim worshipers gathered for Ramadan prayers after sundown Monday night. Some will pray until sunrise. But as they do, they will struggle with a growing sense of vulnerability.
“We don’t know what people are capable of doing, so people are still a little afraid,” said Linda Sarsour, of the Arab American Association of New York. Linda Sarsour says the city’s Muslim community is facing a new cycle of harassment and intimidation. It’s what she believes is the result of the deepening crisis in Israel and Gaza.
Early Sunday morning, witnesses say the men in a car circled the local Islamic center, waving Israeli flags and taunting worshippers. In recent weeks, several mosques have reported anti-Muslim graffiti and other forms of harassment. NYPD detectives are investigating.
“I’m from America and I’m proud to be an American, but I’m also proud to be a Muslim. So I do get negative reactions from people but I try to tolerate that,” said Edwin Rios, a Muslim New Yorker. “It’s really unfortunate that someone chose the last 10 days of Ramadan to come and incite this type of hate in our community,” Sarsour said.
Dania Darwish is a college student who started the Facebook page, “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.” She’s determined to bring people closer. “I know a hashtag won’t be able to change things but peace is a process, it doesn’t happen overnight,” Darwish said.
A news conference is scheduled in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to address these concerns and incidents on Tuesday.