Thursday, March 4th | 20 Adar 5781

August 9, 2018 5:22 pm

Brooklyn ‘Bean Pie’ Mosque Resurfaces In New Mexico Compound Investigation

avatar by Ira Stoll


The New York Times logo. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

When the New York Times devoted 11 paragraphs and three photos to a promotional article about a Brooklyn bean pie bakery, I faulted the Times for failing to explore a neighboring mosque.

I wrote then:

The Times reported: “Masjid at-Taqwa, a popular mosque just steps away from Abu’s, was founded by former members of the Nation who left in the 1980s to practice a more traditional brand of Islam. A member of the congregation, Idris Conry, opened his shop here in 2001. Mr. Conry’s eldest son, Idris Braithwaite, took over the business in 2011.”

Anyone wondering whether this mosque or its members, or the proprietors of the bakery, share the Nation of Islam’s notorious antisemitism and extremism were disappointed by the Times article, which totally avoided the issue. The Investigative Project on Terrorism does have some information about the mosque that does shed light. So does the Clarion Project.

The Forward mocked me at the time, writing about what the Forward called, “an indignant takedown of a piece on a Bed-Stuy bakery run by former members of the Nation of Islam, in which he took the Grey Lady to task for characterizing Avigdor Liberman as ‘ultra-nationalist,’ while describing the bakery’s navy bean pies as ‘healthy’ and ‘mellow.’”

Now the Masjid at-Taqwa is back in the news. A Times news article reports, “Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40, and four of his relatives were charged with child abuse this week after 11 malnourished children were discovered in a makeshift compound in northern New Mexico last week. The children, ages 1 to 15, had barely any food and no access to fresh water or basic hygiene, the authorities said. A foster parent of one of the 11 children told the authorities that the adults had trained the child in the use of an assault rifle in preparation for carrying out school shootings, according to court documents that prosecutors filed with New Mexico’s Eighth Judicial District Court.”

“Siraj Wahhaj’s father, who has the same name as his son, is an imam of a mosque in Brooklyn,” the Times reports.

A follow-up Times article reports, “The imam at the Masjid at-Taqwa, Siraj Wahhaj, told the Associated Press on Thursday that the decomposing body of a child found at the compound had been identified as his grandson… a spokesman for the mosque, Ali Abdul-Karim Judan, said in a video posted on Facebook Thursday that the news media and the authorities were engaging in ‘propaganda’ by wrongfully injecting mentions of international terrorism and school violence into what amounted to ‘a domestic situation’ in New Mexico.”

Perhaps if, as I suggested, the Times had spent less time sampling and hyping the bean pies and more time investigating the mosque and its leadership, the newspaper would have uncovered earlier what is shaping up as a newsworthy story.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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