The meeting began with an address by one of the three MAS representatives, a young and affable physical therapist. Although all three were foreign born and spoke with accents, they were all very, very slick. The primary speaker spun the expected line about the MAS- they're a peaceful organization which works with children, feeds the hungry, stands for tolerance, etc., to which the audience responded with furious shouting. The thing is that Staten Islanders have been educating themselves about the MAS for about a month now and we have seen the facts about this organization in black and white; no amount of denials or slick presentation can change what this organization, and Islam itself, really are.
The floor was opened to questions and the first speaker, who looked Arab, turned out to be the famous anti-Islamic writer Robert Spencer. I've read Spencer's book, "The Truth About Mohammed" and found his arguments about Islam indisputable, although I object to his neo-conservative associations. However, the man knows Islam and Islamic radicalism backwards and forward and posed some pointed questions to the MAS men about their connection to the Moslem Brotherhood and their president's public defense of certain terrorist groups and individuals. Their answers were evasive and unsatisfactory.
Other speakers came forward with equally incisive questions, citing the Koran, investigative reports, and the public statements of the MAS' own leaders, to show that this group is untrustworthy and unacceptable. One man had a great point about the MAS' boasts of charitable programs. He pointed out that prison gangs, like the Latin Kings, also perform charity and write children's books, etc., but such public displays don't really mean a thing when such groups are also involved in crime and violence. He cited the MAS leader Mahdi Bray's public defense of 3 men who were arrested for terrorist activities. At one point a Middle Eastern-looking priest got up and shouting about how he loved Jesus and Jesus was God, etc. He had to be quieted down by ushers.
Surprisingly, most of the speakers seemed to be women. At least, most of the best speakers were women. The men who got up mostly spoke in weak, quiet voices and rambled on endlessly about irrelevancies. The women of this community, who are generally reputed to be loud and obnoxiously pushy, gained my undying respect. They certainly were loud and pushy, but for a great cause, which was to defend their families and homes from a threat. As the saying goes, "The female of the species is more deadly than the male". They were all like Joan of Arc: brave, defiant and eloquent. One lady called Father Fennessy a Judas and asked the MAS why on earth they would want to come to a community that doesn't want them. Another challenged the speaker's constant declaration of respect for Jesus, and demanded to know if he believed that He was the Son of God. Another Iron Lady said that the FBI had told her the MAS was on the terrorist watch list and swatted down the MAS man when he unctuously addressed her as "sister". One woman cited the Koran's dictate to slay the infidels and demanded to know if we were infidels. Another cited the MAS' well known terrorist ties. An Egyptian woman detailed the barbaric treatment of Christians in her home country. At one point, the crowd shouted down a white civic leader and an Arab Catholic priest from Brooklyn, who had been invited to testify to what good neighbors the MAS mosque in Brooklyn are. The meeting was adjourned early when the "priest" in the crowd, who turned out to be the pastor of the Arab Protestant church, started shouting and got a group of people to start chanting.
Although at one point one of the MAS men started lecturing us on the Bible, they were generally polite and calm and faced an extremely hostile crowd without losing their temper. But that's what the public face of any organization is supposed to do. The overwhelming evidence has shown that this organization supports terrorism. The overwhelming evidence is that the Koran itself supports violence against non-Moslems. With the exception of the sex abuse scandal, the sale of the convent to this group is probably the most outrageous and scandalous thing I have ever seen the Church do.
The natives were as furious as any mob I've ever seen, and rightfully so. It was like a valve had been opened that let out decades worth of frustration and anger. We Americans, and we Catholics, have been forced to swallow so much insulting BS about so many things (Islam being one) for so long, without being able to say anything about it because of politically correct censorship. The newspapers won't print how we really feel; the radio or TV won't interview us; internet forums like silive delete any comments they deem incorrect; last night we finally had our say.