Image: Jaffarya Center
David Duprey  /  AP
The Jaffarya Center in Amherst, N.Y., has become a news magnet, with Amherst Councilman Mark Manna, right, greeting a TV reporter Tuesday. staff and news service reports
updated 5/10/2011 1:50:55 PM ET 2011-05-10T17:50:55

Muslim leaders are upset that a homeowner who lives next door to a newly opened mosque has posted a sign on his front lawn that reads "Bomb Making Next Driveway."

Michael Heick lives along a heavily traveled road in Amherst, a Buffalo suburb. The next driveway on the same side of the road is the entrance to the Jaffarya Center.

Heick told local media outlets that he put up the sign last weekend because he was frustrated with how the mosque and town officials handled his complaints that the mosque was built too close to his property and that its bright lights violate town code.

"The place is too close. I don't care what people think. It doesn't matter what people think," he told the Buffalo News. "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."

In an interview with local TV network, WGRZ, Commissioner of Building Thomas Ketchum described Heick's allegation about the town as "absolutely false."

He told WGRZ that outstanding issues had caused him to issue a conditional certificate of occupancy for the mosque. It allows the building to be occupied but under the condition that code violations are corrected.

Heick, for his part, insisted the sign was not directed at a particular group.

"It does not say what driveway. It doesn't say 'at the mosque'," he said. "If they feel it's at them, that's how they feel."

Image: Sign on lawn
David Duprey  /  AP
The sign placed by Michael Heick on his lawn is seen Tuesday.

Mosque officials said the sign's message is offensive and that Heick hasn't responded to their requests for a meeting.

"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."

Mubarak Abidi, mosque president, said he called Amherst police over the weekend about the sign and was told its posting wasn't illegal.

"They said there's nothing in the law that we can do anything about this sign," he said.

The center planted shrubs along the property line that should grow to six feet in a few years, but Heick said he wants the center to put up a six-foot-tall fence.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: A sign of hate, say Muslim leaders


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