US media is reporting that trustees of a Staten Island parish have voted against the controversial sale of a convent to the Muslim American Society (MAS) which had planned to construct an Islamic center at the site. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal:
The trustees of Saint Margaret Mary parish on Staten Island have voted against the controversial sale of a convent to the Muslim American Society. Father Keith Fennessy, pastor of the Midland Beach church, had agreed to the deal but after intense community opposition he stepped down as head of the church and later withdrew his support of the sale. The trustees voted on Wednesday, according to a statement released by the Archdiocese of New York Thursday.”The Archdiocese of New York has enjoyed a good relationship with the Islamic community in the past, and looks forward to continued dialogue, friendship, and understanding in the future,” the statement said. Before reversing course, Mr. Fennessy had said he stepped down partially because of the local uproar over the convent’s anticipated sale, saying the opposition was not “totally rational.” A local representative of the Muslim American Society—a nonprofit that runs three existing Islamic centers in the New York City area—could not immediately be reached for comment. Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Virginia-based group, said he was disappointed to hear the news, attributing it to anti-Islamic sentiments fueled by people outside of the community. “We will still continue to try to meet the needs of the community,” said Mr. Bray. “They need a mosque on Staten Island and we’re determined to have one.” The archdiocese would not disclose whether the vote was unanimous or split. In addition to Mr. Fennessy, the board includes Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan and the vicars general of the archdiocese, as well as two lay members of the parish, listed on the church’s website as Kerri Owens and Jack Sigona. News of the anticipated sale of the convent surfaced in May, prompting widespread condemnation in the surrounding neighborhood and community. Residents complained of traffic but also raised questions about the group and its connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, a global network that promotes political Islam. A community meeting between the two sides last month dissolved into a shouting match and ended abruptly.
An earlier post had reported on the controversy surrounding the proposed Staten Island center as well as various other planned MAS mosques in the NY area. Another post discussed an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood editorial in support of new mosque construction in the U.S. and Europe referring specifically to the planned new mosques in New York, on Staten Island, and the proposed Islamic facility close to the site of the World Trade Center attacks.
The MAS was identified in a Hudson Institute report as a part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and closely tied to the Egyptian organization. Previous posts have discussed the controversy involving the Roxbury Mosque in Boston, also tied to the MAS.