About 50 people filled the City Council chamber on Tuesday evening to silently express their vehement opposition to rescinding a resolution that had passed previously to additionally name a section of Van Houten Street to Alhaj Forman Ali Street in honor of the man who played a key role in founding the Jalalabad Jam-E-Masjid.
The large crowd – consisting of relatives and family members of Ali — came in to keep Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, the 2nd Ward councilman, from rescinding the resolution honoring their deceased forefather. Realizing the presence of the crowd, Akhtaruzzaman recalled the resolution that was going to cancel the street naming.
Rigo Rodriguez, councilman at-large, got in contact with the Van Houten Street mosque, and uncovered that Ali did not play as important a role as the street naming resolution suggests, he said, “That gentleman was never a founder of the mosque nor was that guy ever on the board.” A spokesperson for the mosque said, “They did not contact the mosque committee.” The spokesperson, who did not wish to be named, said there was little communication between Akhtaruzzaman and the mosque. “The councilman put that as a political statement to the community, but the mosque itself is totally against it,” said Rodriguez.
“They wanted all five names to be there,” said Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, 2nd Ward councilman, who sponsored the resolution and had it passed. Akhtaruzzaman referred to the number of people who banded together to form the mosque in 1980; he said, he informed the mosque officials that all five names were an impossibility, and settled on one of the names. “You can’t have everybody’s name.”
Akhtaruzzaman said, family members of Ali lobbied him for the name, and he agreed to do everything to bring it into existence.
Rodriguez said the documents he uncovered, including the founding charter of the mosque, never mentions Ali; he said, he has forwarded them to the city’s legal department. “I gave it to the law department as evidence,” said Rodriguez. “He never donated a lump-sum of money, he might have donated 5 dollar, 10 dollar, here and there, but never donated a lump-sum.” If what Rodriguez has found is true, the resolution would violate one of the conditions set forth that requires the honoree to have contributed to his community to deserve a high honor such as a street naming. “You must do something in the community that merits” the honor of having a street named after you, said Rodriguez.
The spokesperson confirmed Rodriguez’s statement saying, he has checked membership directory and the founding documents, only to uncover Ali being mentioned in not a single place. “Mr Foreman Ali’s name doesn’t exist anywhere,” said the spokesperson.
It appears Rodriguez has been working with the mosque members, who are apparently against the street naming, to undo the resolution renaming Van Houten Street to Alhaj Forman Ali Street. Akhtaruzzaman says if he has to take back one of his resolution, he will do it himself without needing help from Rodriguez or anybody else. “If I have to cancel this name, I will cancel it,” said Akhtaruzzaman.
Despite Akhtaruzzaman’s recalling of the resolution, Rodriguez attempted to move it in the council in order to rescind the street naming, but after a convoluted legal opinion from the corporation council, which merely stated that a councilman is able to take back his resolution, Andre Sayegh, council president, accepted the ruling and continued with the meeting. Rodriguez insisted multiple times to have a vote on the resolution; however, after a few interruptions from Rodriguez the meeting continued.