A property battle between a New York homeowner and a Mosque took an ugly turn this weekend when the homeowner erected a sign on his lawn that reads, “Bomb Making Next Driveway.”
Michael Heick, an Amherst resident who lives next door to the Jaffarya Islamic Center of Niagara Frontier, put put the small sign up facing northbound traffic on Transit Road. The next driveway is indeed that of the Jaffarya Islamic Center at 10300 Transit.
Mosque members and other Muslims are upset with the sign and want Heick to remove it.
“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 the sign up because he was frustrated with how town officials dealt with his concerns about the center, which opened in November 2010.
“The place is too close. I don’t care what people think. It doesn’t matter what people think,” he said. “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 says that the bright lights from the mosque encroach upon his yard and violate the town’s code. He’s demanded that the mosque erect a 6-foot-high fence along his property line, but they’ve said it’s too expensive for them to do so.
They instead have planted shrubs that will eventually grow beyond 6 feet.
Mosque president Mubarak Abidi called Amherst police about the new sign but they told him that Heick isn’t breaking any laws.
Heick says his sign isn’t directed at anyone in particular, even though it says “next driveway.”
“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.”
What do you think? Does Michael Heick’s sign cross the line?