Staten Island: Muslim American Society removes controversial sign from its Dongan Hills building

A sign is removed from the front of the Muslim American Society of Staten Island, located in Dongan Hills

A sign is removed from the front of the Muslim American Society of Staten Island, located in Dongan Hills

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The Muslim American Society of Staten Island came under scrutiny Tuesday when members of the community noticed a sign containing a picture of a Saudi Arabian airplane on the side of its Dongan Hills building, and became alarmed that the banner was making some sort of anti-American reference — an accusation the society immediately denied.

According to Mohammad Badawy, a teacher for the after-school program at the community center, the sign serves as one of the many decorations that he and other workers at the center put up during their annual mock Hajj pilgrimage, which they host for the children in the society’s after-school program.

“We build models here of all the stations that we do there in the actual pilgrimage,” said Mr. Badawy, who explained that it is customary for people to take a Saudi Arabian flight. “So the plane was just part of that because the first step is that you take the plane to Mecca”…

However, Scott LoBaido, a local artist and community activist, saw the sign as offensive… The red sign contained a picture of a white Saudi Arabian aircraft containing Islamic writing…

“Obviously, as far as we know now, it wasn’t meant to offend anyone,” said Lobaido, “but it was outside in the front of the building. This is not where they have the classes”…

Get used to it, Muslims: people are suspicious of Islam and airplanes.

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