STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Asking that they be treated like believers of other religions, about 50 supporters of a proposed mosque in Midland Beach today rallied support for the project on the steps of Borough Hall in St. George.
“The reaction to the sale of the convent hurt us,” said New Springville resident Heshm El-Meligy, speaking on behalf of the Arab Muslim American Federation. “We are Staten Islanders. We have the right to have a house of worship anywhere of our choosing according to the law of the land.”
The rally was organized by the Muslim American Society (MAS).
There has been fierce debate across the borough about whether MAS should convert an empty former convent, owned by St. Margaret Mary R.C. Church in Midland Beach, into a mosque and community center.
But Muslims have argued that they have as much right to be there as Catholics or Jews. “We don’t want a privilege that no one else has,” said El-Meligy, one of several speakers who addressed the crowd.
Update: See “A move on Staten Island to broker mosque peace”, SILive, 8 July 2010