Residents of the wealthy Upper West Side of Manhattan are outraged that their streets are being taken over multiple times each day for the 45-minute service as 200 Muslim cabbies are illegally parked outside a Mosque during a prayer service.
The Muslim taxi drivers are double and triple parking in a huge line that forces traffic into the oncoming lane.
The situation has flared up and on one occasion a cop telling a taxi driver to move on was swarmed by other hacks – and had to call for reinforcements.
When several other police cars arrived the taxi driver was handcuffed and led away.
Muslims have been parking illegally at the Islamic Cultural Centre for four years but the row has blown up because a road that connects to it that has been closed for the whole time has now reopened.
Muslim prayers take place five times a day but the busiest is on Fridays at lunchtime when up to 300 worshippers – and 200 taxi drivers – are in attendance.
Most of the taxi drivers appear unrepentant with one claiming: “I have to pray. I have no choice but to break the rules.”
Cabbie Abdoulaye Diallo, a 30-year-old immigrant from Guinea, told DNA info that he had got several $75 fines for parking illegally outside the mosque but he did not care.
“For me, my prayer is more important, because that’s what I’m going to take with me the day I die.”
Upper West Side residents however are increasingly anxious that they cannot cross the road safely.
“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” said James Beale, the resident manager at a Trump tower block that is next to the mosque.
“It’s a very dangerous situation. It’s like all the rules of the road are thrown aside,” James Beale told DNA info.
Abdur Rahman, an assistant imam at the mosque, said it had told worshippers to respect the parking rules but they had failed to do so.
But Abdur Rahman also claimed that the parking rules should be more flexible to accommodate worshippers’ needs.