Threats Facing Islamic Cultural Center Sadly Routine — But This One Was From Britain - Manhattan Express | Manhattan Express

Threats Facing Islamic Cultural Center Sadly Routine — But This One Was From Britain

The Islamic Cultural Center’s imam, Ali Mashhour, discussed the frequency with which his Upper East Side mosque receives threats. | Photo by Jackson Chen

BY JACKSON CHEN | In the second of two local anti-Muslim threats last week, the Islamic Cultural Center of New York on the Upper East Side received a letter on June 22 warning it would be bombed, just a day after a Downtown mosque was threatened with “a massacre,” police said.

What was striking about both threats is that they reportedly came from Britain.

According to the NYPD, the Islamic Cultural Center, at 1711 Third Avenue between East 96th and 97th Streets — the first building in New York City erected as a mosque — received a bomb threat letter sent from Britain.

Police said that they searched the building and the surrounding area and no bomb was found.

The Islamic Cultural Center’s imam, Ali Mashhour, discussed the frequency with which his Upper East Side mosque receives threats. | Photo by Jackson Chen

A day before the Upper East Side facility received its threat, the Masjid Manhattan mosque at 30 Cliff Street near the Financial District also received a threat of a major terrorist attack. According to police, a June 21 letter to the mosque read, “We will be coming to your Mosque in August to carry out a massacre. It will be on a scale never seen.”

Though the NYPD did not confirm the origin of that letter, both the Daily News and the Post reported that it came from London.

Just after midnight on June 19 in north London, a van crashed into a group of worshippers outside a mosque, killing one person and injuring 11 others. A suspect, a man from Wales arrested as the van’s driver, is alleged to have shouted, “I want to kill all Muslims — I did my bit.” That attack followed several deadly terror incidents targeting both the London Bridge and an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, for which ISIS claimed credit. Those attacks killed a total of 29 people

The Islamic Cultural Center of New York’s imam, Ali Mashhour, told Manhattan Express that threats — via phone calls, letters, and even sometimes in person — are a monthly occurrence. He said he wasn’t at the mosque at the time the letter arrived, but his staff confirmed they had received it and since turned it over to the police as evidence.

“It’s serious, it’s just not unusual,” Mashhour said of the threat. “When you see the way things are going [with] the political climate, the sentiments, it’s not something unexpected really.”

Police said there have been no arrests and the investigation is ongoing within the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force.

Mashhour said that he, his staff, and those who worship with them have become familiar with anti-Muslim hate crimes, whether they target the mosque, its members, or their fellow Muslims.

“People have been stabbed, people have been shot, people have been set ablaze,” Mashhour said of hate crimes against Muslims in New York. “The premises here at this mosque are vandalized often. People either spray paint, or they will break the glass outside, or throw things into the courtyard, or slash tires of the patrons that are parked outside.”

Police said there have been no arrests in the threat against the Masjid Manhattan mosque either, with the investigation ongoing within the Hate Crime Task Force.

The mosque’s entrance. | Photo by Jackson Chen

Muslims showing up for their Friday midday prayers at Cliff Street Downtown were undeterred, with hundreds of worshippers filling the mosque. When asked about the terrorist threat, attendees expressed no shock.

“It’s really nothing new,” Hesham El-Meligy, a Staten Island resident, said. “It’s not even on the radar. It’s nothing we stop our lives for.”

El-Meligy, who prays at Masjid Manhattan during the work week, and other Muslims who worship there said they’ve grown used to hate crime incidents as well as threats these days.

“I wasn’t too surprised, I was just like, ‘Aw man, this is happening again but at the mosque I pray in,’” Imran Arif said. “Thankfully, we have other people here to look out for us.”

Arif was joined by Haroon Bhatti, a co-worker at NYC Health + Hospitals, who had alerted his fellow worshippers about the terror threat through their online group chat.

“We let everyone know that this threat was identified,” Bhatti said. “But the point I was trying to get across to everyone was, ‘Don’t be afraid, be cautious, be aware.’” He added, “I think everyone took that and instead of staying home or praying at another mosque, they came over here, which I think is evident by the amount of people you see.”

One Response to Threats Facing Islamic Cultural Center Sadly Routine — But This One Was From Britain

  1. Islamic Muslim August 23, 2017 at 1:20 am

    It gave me some new insights I never really thought about before.
    Islamic Muslim Astrologer

    Reply

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