Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny backs controversial Sheepshead Bay mosque

Russian community leaders: Brook-Krasny will lose votes

Brooklyn Daily

Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny is breaking ranks with some in his Russian-speaking base by tossing his weight behind the controversial Sheepshead Bay mosque — a move that community leaders say could wreck his re-election bid because the shrine isn’t even in his district.

Brook-Krasny — a Democrat whose area covers Coney Island and Brighton Beach, as well as parts of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, but none of the bay — gave his backing to the rising, four-story structure on Voorhies Avenue between E. 28th and E. 29th streets while speaking at an Arab-American Association of New York candidate forum in Bay Ridge on Oct. 11.

The lawmaker, himself an ex-Soviet Jewish emigre, said he supported the mosque’s construction for personal reasons.

“As people who came here for religious freedom, how can we deny religious freedom to another group?” Brook-Krasny told the largely Middle Eastern audience at PS 170 on Sixth Avenue between 71st and 72nd streets. “If we start taking freedoms from certain groups, we are no longer the country of the American Dream.”

The stance puts him at odds with ex-Soviet Jews, many of whom belong to the Bay People, which has long-battled the moque’s construction in court, warned one Russian media mogul who added that Russian-speaking immigrants can be one-issue voters.

“I wouldn’t tell any politician who wants Russian votes to take a position that’s pro-mosque,” said Gregory Davidzon, owner of Davidzon Radio. “People will vote against anyone who openly supports the mosque.”

Davidzon echoed Bay People arguments that the opposition to the Muslim house of worship has to do with demographics and quality of life.

“It’s a very Jewish area, very few Muslims, very sleepy area, why are they putting it there?” he said. “People don’t want the parking problems, they don’t want the congestion.”

Brook-Krasny’s constituents may live several blocks away, but their opposition is just as strong, Davidzon claimed.

“Russian people don’t think it’s outside the district, it’s outside their window to them,” argued Davidzon. “People think, if they build today over there, tomorrow, they will build next to their house.”

State Sen. David Storobin (R–Brighton Beach), also a Jew from the former Soviet Union, argued that the mosque was a national security threat, referring to documents from the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith that connect the Muslim-American Society, a mosque-backer, to terrorism.

“They’ve organized forums promoting extremism and anti-Semitism, they’ve been linked to groups that support the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas,” said Storobin, who announced his opposition to the mosque in July. “I believe the assemblyman knows what he is doing, and he is standing for what he believes in, but I am concerned for the safety and welfare of the neighborhood.”

Brook-Krasny’s Republican challenger Tom McCarthy said he was unfamiliar with the documents, but believed government shouldn’t interfere with religious freedom. Instead, he called for more outreach to the surrounding community from those behind the contentious project.

“Dialogue and discussion are the best thing at this point,” McCarthy said.

Meanwhile, Brook-Krasny said he’s already feeling the heat from his constituents.

“I have been grilled for my position,” said the assemblyman, who added he won’t be backing down. “I have three mosques in my district, and they are fine people, hard-working people — it’s not fair and it’s not right.”

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at wbredderman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/WillBredderman

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Reader Feedback

Desmond says:
Oh, look! More sensationalism from the Bay Ridge Courier! How refreshing!
Oct. 18, 2012, 10:06 am
Sam from Fort Hamilton says:
Bravo for Brook-Krasny! You've got my vote. Storobin is slime, bigoted slime. Just like every last member of the Bay People.
Oct. 18, 2012, 7:42 pm
Ari from Brighton Beach says:
Right now this four floor structure at Voorhies Avenue is sandwiched between private houses - with zero parking and in the middle of quiet residential area with public school. I was there many times.

Previously, only two seniors lived at that place. Now you can expect hundreds of people coming there every day to pray.

I would be against this construction even if it would be church, synagogue or medical center. It has nothing to do with religious freedoms. It is all about quality of life.
Oct. 20, 2012, 1:15 pm
it is i from Brooklyn says:
There are certainly many shades of grey here, and for any politician to fully support/or be against this is disingenuous. Ari raises some valid points; these issues need to be addressed. It isn't fair to cast aspersions on someone because they are against having a mosque in a primarily residential neighborhood. Another issue that will need to be addressed is whether or not there are plans to amplify the call to prayer, as this affects ones quality of life. Currently, religious institutions are exempt from noise code laws and can amplify church bells, the call to prayer or the sabbath siren to whatever volume they desire. I'd like to see some of these politicians have the courage to pass legislation that requires religious institutions to obey the same noise code laws that everyone else must follow. I believe in freedom OF religion and freedom FROM religion. It is important for all of us that separation of church and state is respected.
Oct. 20, 2012, 1:53 pm
Salah says:
Wow! If we only have more people like Alec Brook-Krasny, the world would be a much better place.
Oct. 20, 2012, 10:58 pm
galina from sheepshead bay says:
Only one word for both Alec & Ari.
Political person.
Friends!?.
For today.
We deserved them.
Tell me who is your leader and I tell what kind of community.
Oct. 23, 2012, 6:42 am

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