Lawn sign advances feud between mosque, neighbor
By Jay Tokasz
NEWS STAFF REPORTER
A feud between two Transit Road neighbors — a homeowner and a mosque — turned ugly this weekend when the homeowner staked a sign on his front lawn insinuating that the new 11,600-square-foot Islamic worship site is home to a “bomb making” operation.
Michael Heick, who lives next door to the Jaffarya Islamic Center of Niagara Frontier, put a small sign that reads “Bomb Making Next Driveway” to northbound traffic on Transit Road. The next driveway on the same side of the road as Heick’s home heading north is the Jaffarya Center, at 10300 Transit.
Mosque members and other area Muslims objected to the sign and called upon Heick to take it down.
“I would really think it’s an incitement of hatred against Muslims,” said Dr. Syed Jaffri, an Amherst psychiatrist and member of the mosque’s board of trustees. “Law enforcement should take it very seriously. Tomorrow, somebody could say, ‘Oh they have weapons,’ and people believe it.”
Heick said he put up the sign because he was frustrated with how the mosque and Amherst town officials have handled his concerns about the building, which opened in November.
“The place is too close. I don’t care what people think. It doesn’t matter what people think,” he said Monday evening from his front porch. “This is a way to get answers now. I get none from the town. The intent was to catch the eye of the people who I have a problem with.”
Heick has long complained that bright lights from the mosque encroach upon his yard and violate town code. He’s demanded that the mosque put up a 6-foot-tall fence along his property line, but mosque officials have objected, saying it’s too costly.
Instead, they planted shrubs that will grow beyond 6 feet within a few years, they said.
Mubarak Abidi, mosque president, said he called Amherst police over the weekend about the sign but was told there was nothing illegal about it.
“They said there’s nothing in the law that we can do anything about this sign,” he said.
Heick said the sign was not directed at anyone in particular.
“It does not say what driveway. It doesn’t say at the mosque,” he said. “I have issues with the mosque. The sign is not directed at anybody. If they feel it’s at them, that’s how they feel.”
via Jeff Wilber and thebuffalonews.com