Protesters against ‘Ground Zero mosque’ face counter-demonstration
Mosque hysteria reached fevered pitch Sunday as angry protesters opposed to building an Islamic center near Ground Zero squared off with supporters of the project.
The two groups were kept apart in penned-in protest sites two blocks way from each other – about 200 people gathered in support of the project and 300 against. The block where the proposed center would be built in a former Burlington Coat Factory was closed off with police barricades.
Opponents chanted “No mosque, no way!” and carried signs reading, “9-11-01: Never Forget,” as Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” blared over loudspeakers. One group brought life-sized mock missiles with a dummy terrorist draped over top holding a sign that read: “Obama, your middle-name is Hussein, we understand. Bloomberg, what’s your excuse.” Supporters carried signs reading, “America! When did it become OK to be a bigot!”
“I am nervous when people from outside our city come here and tell us how to live in our city,” said Garth Silberstein, an Orthodox Jew from Crown Heights, who supports the project. “This has to do with racism. It has nothing to do with Ground Zero. It’s dangerous to think that freedom of religion only applies to your religion.”