Home of pastor opposed to Bayonne mosque vandalized

A Bayonne pastor who is against proposed plans to build a mosque in the city says that his home has been vandalized for the third time.

Pastor Joseph Basile says his home was spray-painted with the phrase "[Expletive] you" twice with an arrow pointing to the word Islam. He says that signs he has posted opposing the mosque have made him a target.

"It's almost like you do not have the right to express your opinion," Basile says. "I mean, these signs are a bother to no one."

The mosque is slated to be built inside an old warehouse on East 24th Street. The group that wants to build the mosque says that they do not want Basile's home to be a target.

"You're invading someone's personal property and their freedom of speech," says Waheed Akbar, secretary of the Bayonne Muslims nonprofit group. "They have the right to have those signs up that states 'Stop the mosque' and 'Save Bayonne.'"

Council on American-Islamic Relations communications director Abdul Mubarak-Rowe agrees.

"If people just happen to sit down to talk with folk, explain their position it would be better off for everybody," he says.

Basile says the warehouse site is very close to some Bayonne homes. He says that the anger might end if a new site is found for the mosque.

"I really do believe those people want to get along," Basile says. "I think the best thing to do is for the purposes of well-being ...let's find a better location."

But Akbar says that he wonders if a semi-abandoned building isn't the right location, what is?

"There's ignorance, we need to break some barriers. We need to educate people, so we're working on that," he says.

The Bayonne planning board meeting on the mosque is scheduled for Jan. 23. Large crowds are expected to attend.

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