The worshipers, young and old, converged on mosques in Brooklyn this weekend, seeking olive green rugs on which to rest their knees, and pray. One week before the end of Ramadan, prayers rebounded off the walls with even more fervor than usual.
Then, Muslim leaders say, rancor that may have stemmed from the destruction in Gaza marred gatherings bookending two daily Ramadan fasts, reigniting tensions in a community where news of hostility in the Middle East tends to rattle both Muslims and Jews.
On Friday evening, outside a prayer gathering preceding the nightly meal, men in a white Lexus flung eggs at three elderly worshipers entering a mosque on Coney Island Avenue. “This is for your Allah!” the vandals shouted.
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Two days later, just as dawn broke on Sunday, 25 blocks away, a group of teenagers rolled past the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge seven times in a car, blaring with makeshift sirens and lights. “Burn to the ground!” they chanted as they waved Israeli flags. When the car stopped, a young worshiper retaliated by hurling a bottle, nicking one of the hecklers on his nose and hands.
The two incidents, which some viewed as reprisals of the kind that occasionally intrude on Ramadan festivities in New York, flustered some who have been glued to YouTube and their phones for word about friends and relatives in Gaza.
At a news conference on Tuesday at the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, where a majority of the worshipers are Palestinian, religious leaders and elected officials condemned the acts, which they said seemed designed to provoke Muslims at a delicate moment.
“These people in this mosque are directly connected to what’s happening in Gaza every day,” said Linda Sarsour, a Muslim activist in Brooklyn. “These are people with raw emotions, and they feel even more outraged that you’d choose a time when we’re grieving family and watching relatives scattered on the streets to do something like this.”
Surveillance video of the incident in Bay Ridge is being reviewed by the Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force, elected officials including State Senator Martin J. Golden said, though no one has been arrested. They said police officers have identified the teenagers involved.
Leaders in the Orthodox Jewish community traveled to the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge yesterday to apologize to leaders at the mosque, Ms. Sarsour said, adding, “We appreciate their visit here to the mosque to have this constructive dialogue.”
Monday night, members of the task force visited the mosque on Coney Island Avenue, the Thayba Islamic Center, but have not identified suspects, said Abdul Manaf, a spokesman.
The clamor this weekend was but one flare-up in a cycle of violence that often goes unnoticed, Mr. Manaf said. Worshipers at his mosque were also attacked earlier during Ramadan, he said, and anti-Muslim graffiti was discovered in Brooklyn this month.
“The most beautiful part is that none of them has retaliated,” Mr. Manaf said. “None of these guys are letting it trickle down to the youngsters.”
In one measure of the growing influence of the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge in a neighborhood that was once largely Italian and Irish, elected officials and reporters thought to remove their shoes before entering the prayer room where the news conference was being held. Rabbis wearing skullcaps mingled with imams in flowing white robes as barefooted reporters jostled for space on the light green carpet, reminiscent of the olive trees that dot the hills of Palestine.
A week earlier, the same leaders had gathered for a cross-cultural Ramadan banquet and the launch of an anti-hate campaign.
“It really breaks my heart, being brought up in Borough Park, where there was such a numerous amount of Holocaust survivors,” said Douglas Jablon, a Jewish leader.
Visitors scattered as a midafternoon call to prayer sounded.
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I am not suggesting that one should go about throwing eggs at people who minding their own business. Believe it or not, I try to polite to everyone I meet, including women dressed in full Islamic dress (not many out here, but a few).
Yet this is a strange episode for NYT to pick. The trending news is not a few young kids throwing eggs, but a massive outbreak of anti-Semitism. While it true that most of it seems to be happening in Europe, there have a been a few unpleasant incidents in the USA too.
But no, NYT has to pick this incident. The writing is classic NYT too – aren’t the Muslims just the nicest folks you could want to meet? So upbeat, make it sound so pleasant.