Brooklyn Neighborhood, Once Greek and Hispanic, Now a Bengali Enclave with Five Mosques

August 4, 2006

Source: Independent Press Association

On August 4, 2006 Independent Press Association translated from Bangla, "The Church McDonalds area, in Brooklyn, was once dominated by Hispanic and Greek immigrants. Halal meat or live fish could hardly be found in the area. In fact, betel nuts were not even available until 1984. From Friday to Sunday, tickets were unnecessary when riding a bus. But according to Shafiqul Alam Alster, a Bengali who has been residing in Church McDonalds since the 1970s, things have changed nowadays. He said that the number of Bengalis living in the area has increased dramatically. Alster talked to the Weekly Thikana about his past 31 years in the area... 'We were never victims of any hate crimes. The people of other communities used to respect us. When we first rented a house here, Americans were crazy about boxing hero Muhammad Ali,' Alster said. 'We could not understand why, but then we thought we were respected as Muslims by other communities because of Muhammad Ali. That respect doesn’t exist now. Everything has become a nightmare since 9/11.' The influx of Bengalis in Church McDonalds increased during the 1980s. First, a grocery store was set up by Abul Quasem and Shahidullah. They operated the store from 1983 to 1984, and after that it was passed onto different owners. Then an Asian Grocery was set up by Vlack Quasem. Alster said that within a few decades Church McDonalds has become a predominantly Bangladeshi area. Now five mosques have been built, centering the Bangladeshis living there, and unions have been formed. Most Bengalis in Church McDonalds work in the construction industry. Because of the sense of community among the Bengalis in the area, they have learned to love the neighborhood."