Pastor's home vandalized after opposing mosque construction

The home of a New Jersey pastor who openly opposed the construction of a mosque in the area has been vandalized after a special Zoning Board meeting rejected the proposal for the Muslim establishment last week.

(REUTERS / Lucas Jackson)An oil tanker stands attached to a mooring station near a refinery in Bayonne, New Jersey August 24, 2011.

In an interview with The Jersey Journal, Grace Bible Fellowship pastor Joseph Basile said somebody threw rocks through his window after the Zoning Board meeting Monday last week. He suspected that the vandalism was triggered by his opposition to the construction of a Muslim community center in the area.

This is not the first time that Pastor Basile's home has been vandalized this year. In January, he came home to find spray paint on his house and on the road and snow around the structure. At that time, the New Jersey pastor said the signs posted on his windows which read "Save Bayonne" and "Stop the Mosque" could have sparked the act of vandalism on his home.

"The police are trying to determine when it occurred, but I'm not quite sure (exactly when)," Pastor Basile said of the latest vandalism incident on his home.

On the evening of March 6, the Zoning Board voted 4-3 in favor of building the mosque. However, a minimum of five votes was needed for its approval, since there were parking and buffer zone requirements between the proposed location and nearby properties.

There were also residents who brought up religion as an issue in the opposition and approval of the mosque construction.

The Bayonne Muslims had purchased an old warehouse on East 24th Street which it wants to convert into a mosque. Local resident Joe Wisniewski said he would have no objections to the construction of the center if it were located in another part of the area. He said he would also object to any plans of building commercial structures on the site, saying the neighborhood does not "want a commercial development here," Pix 11 reports.

Back in January, a representative of the local Muslim community issued a statement denouncing the vandalism on Pastor Basile's property. Waheed Akbar said the minister has the right to post the signs as part of his freedom of speech.