New Jersey pastor Joseph Basile said his home was vandalized multiple times due to his lack of support of a proposed, new Islamic community center; construction of the center was denied by local zoning board members last week.
Basile, who pastors Grace Bible Fellowship in Bayonne, N.J., told The Jersey Journal someone threw rocks through his home's window last Monday night after Bayonne Zoning Board members failed to pass a request from a group called Bayonne Muslims to set up a worship center at an existing warehouse.
The pastor and his wife, Patricia, said for some time, they had displayed signs in their home's front windows that read "Save Bayonne" and "Stop the Mosque."
Although board members voted 4-3 in favor of the community center, and the group had purchased property, the Bayonne Muslims' application did not receive the required five votes needed for the application to be granted, reports The Christian Post.
Last week's incident was the second time in which the Basiles' home had been vandalized. In January, anti-Muslim remarks were spray-painted on the front of the Basiles' house, below the "stop the mosque" signs in the window.
An official with the Bayonne Muslims condemned the vandalism as "totally uncalled for."
"It's really unfortunate. No one has a right to vandalize. He has the right to put those signs up. There's freedom of speech. It's his house. You can't go vandalize someone's house," Waheed Akbar, secretary for the Bayonne Muslims, told PIX 11.
"I think it's kids that have nothing better to do. But I definitely don't think it's someone from the Muslim community. We don't condone it. We don't want anyone in our community doing anything like that, and it's illegal."
Patricia Basile, 75, claimed last June a stranger came to her home and threatened her to take the signs down from her home's front window. The signs had been hanging in the window since 2015. "'This is not Alabama, take those signs down within 48 hours, or you're going to be sorry,'" she told the Journal the stranger said, also indicating she asked if that was "a threat or a promise."
"You'll see," Basile said the 6-foot tall man replied.
The Bayonne Zoning Board was held at Bayonne High School, and lasted more than 5 hours. According to the Journal, board members who voted against the mosque cited traffic concerns. John McDonough, a licensed city planner, told board members during the meeting that the Islamic center would not be in conflict with regular parking areas for the mosque's surrounding areas.