New York Times : “Complex Feelings in Brooklyn’s Mix”

October 5, 2008

By KAREEM FAHIM

Inside a friend’s office on Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Zein Rimawi, a Palestinian-American store owner, said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s bid to change the term limits law struck him as fundamentally unfair.

But for Mr. Rimawi, a controversy that accompanied the opening of the school [KGIA] only deepened mistrust of the mayor’s administration. He said that Mr. Bloomberg had not supported the school’s founding principal, Debbie Almontaser

“He supported it, and now he himself he wants to change it. God bless America,” Mr. Rimawi said. “I have been living here for 25 years, and I see the United States becoming like a country from the Middle East. Your freedom is taken little by little, justice is taken little by little, the middle class disappeared, and money is playing a very big role to determine who your representative is.”

Outside, Mr. Rimawi proudly pointed out the stretch of Fifth Avenue between 65th and 75th Streets, full of Arab-owned businesses: jewelers and law offices, supermarkets and dessert shops. And like members of Brooklyn’s other ethnic groups, like the Italians, the Greeks and the Jews, he gave credit to his people for restoring the neighborhood and keeping real estate prices high while driving the crime rate down.

But he said it felt as if there was a great distance between Bay Ridge’s Arab and Muslim community and the government run by Mr. Bloomberg. Arabs, among one of the fastest-growing groups in Bay Ridge’s multiethnic mix, felt ignored, he said.  Read more…

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