Donald, come home.
That was the message on Monday night in Queens, as two dozen men finished their prayers in a basement mosque beneath a discount store on Hillside Avenue in Jamaica, Queens, just a block away from where Donald J. Trump grew up.
They were saddened, frightened and, frankly, dumbfounded by Mr. Trump’s latest declaration — that in reaction to the San Bernardino killings last week he wanted to ban all Muslims from entering the country until the nation’s leaders can “figure out what is going on and why.”
And they had a request: “People always ask, where are the moderate Muslims?” Ali Najmi, 31, a defense lawyer and a co-founder of the Muslim Democratic Club of New York, said during a discussion after prayers at the Arafa Islamic Center. “We’re right here; we’re right in Donald Trump’s neighborhood. He needs to come back home.”
For all his Manhattan pomp, Mr. Trump is a son of Queens. His father, Fred C. Trump, was the son of German immigrants, and he began his career as a developer with a house in Woodhaven. Donald Trump grew up in a stately mansion with columns on Midland Parkway, in the wealthy enclave of Jamaica Estates that Fred Trump partially built. Although he moved on from the borough, he frequently mentioned his experiences of taking the F train on Hillside Avenue into Manhattan, and how Queens gave him perspective on the city’s diversity.
Now, not far from Mr. Trump’s childhood street, a dozen mosques are spread out along Hillside Avenue — there are 93 in Queens, one third of the city’s total, according to Tony Carnes, the editor of “A Journey Through N.Y.C. Religions,” which collects data on faiths. In all, Mr. Carnes said, there are 770,000 Muslims in the New York City metropolitan area.
Many of them make their homes in Queens. There are close to 64,000 Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants in the borough, according to the American Community Survey from 2014; many of them are Muslim. The Muslim community also includes Afghans, Bosnians, Albanians and more. Halal meat shops and barbecue restaurants in neighborhoods like Jamaica, Jackson Heights and Astoria are bustling.
“What is a Muslim? You will see Muslims from every race here,” said Mohammed Tohin, 47, at the Arafa Islamic Center. Mr. Tohin works in real estate and is a Community Board 8 member. “You’ll see white, black, Asian-American. So who is he pointing at — that’s the question I’m asking. Is it me? Is it someone white? Is it the brother born here?”
-- Read the rest of the story at The New York Times, December 9, 2015.