On Friday afternoon at the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, a large mosque and community center in an especially diverse neighborhood of Brooklyn, Muslim men double-parked their cars and ran from adjacent storefronts to catch the start of the 1 p.m. prayer.
As the interior of the mosque filled up with more than 100 people, those left outside began claiming space on the sidewalk, using Arabic-language newspapers as substitutes for prayer rugs.
It was a normal Friday, except that many in attendance were a little more tense than usual. This was the first Friday prayer following the release of documents by The Associated Press that showed several mosques in New York, including the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, had been labeled as suspected “terrorist enterprises” by the New York City Police Department (NYPD), and were under the department’s watchful eye for years.
The AP also revealed in 2011 that the NYPD was keeping several Muslims under surveillance, but the new revelations came as a shock to many in the Bay Ridge Muslim community, who said they’ve had nothing but good relations with the police.
But to others, the documents were just another sign of a continually worsening relationship between what they say is an overly suspicious NYPD and Muslim-Americans just trying to go about their lives.