Home Omar Rivera Urinates on the Wall of the Steinway Street Mosque
Home Omar Rivera Urinates on the Wall of the Steinway Street Mosque

Omar Rivera Urinates on the Wall of the Steinway Street Mosque

On the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the principal at the Concord-Carlisle High School in a Boston suburb substituted a Muslim Anti-American poem for the Pledge of Allegiance.

According to Principal Peter Badalament, he chose to read Mohja Kahf’s poem, “My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears” in which her grandmother argues with American women at Sears about washing her feet in their sink, to emphasize "cross-cultural understanding rather than unsettling words and images associated with the event”

The poem which contains the exchange...

“You can’t do that,” one of the women protests,
turning to me, “Tell her she can’t do that.”
“We wash our feet five times a day,”
my grandmother declares hotly in Arabic.
“My feet are cleaner than their sink.
Worried about their sink, are they? I
should worry about my feet!”

...is about American intolerance

As my own contribution to cross-cultural understanding, I would like to offer this poem based on true events that occured in 2010.

It can be read for Ramadan or any other Muslim occasions when any words and images dealing with the actual event would be unsettling.

I hope it leads to a great deal of cross-cultural understanding

Omar Rivera Urinates on the Wall of the Steinway Street Mosque

With his eyes on the moon,
Omar Rivera stumbles down
Steinway Street
hearing the music
of his dead sister dancing
in between the bodegas

In the Al-Iman Mosque,
the men have washed their hands
up to the wrists
cleaned their nostrils with water
wiped their wet hands over their dirty socks
in the sink

Henry Steinway, the piano man, once
donated an organ
to the Astoria church
that bears his name
on Steinway Street
but there are mosques here now
and they take no requests

In Al-Iman they cry the Adhan
the loudspeaker breaks it up
into static
like the call of the Q Train
on the elevated subway tracks
of Astoria Boulevard

Omar Rivera has ridden the Q
and the N
the J and the M
the A and the D
and the F and the V
out of money he walks
to the bitter music
of the new Astoria

In the mosque they cry Allahu Akbar
and on Steinway Street
on a five-day drunk
weeping for his sister
weeping for all the things
he can't remember
he cries a woman's name

He halts outside
a cheap boutique
covered in glittering tile
and carved doors
and he follows nature's call
not reading where it says
Al-Iman Mosque

Later they will say he
burst into the mosque
and shouted, "Terrorists".
They will say that he cursed at everyone
threw a beer bottle at their heads
gave them the middle finger
and peed
all over their prayer rugs

Omar does not know much
of Islam and less of their
prayer rugs
and if he hummed
Me Enamore
while inside they shouted
Muhammadar Rasul Allah
his prayer was least
as sincere
as theirs

A late arrival sees him
and screams
Allahu Akbar
inside they shout Allahu Akbar
bewildered, Omar shouts
Olly Olly Oxen Free
as they tackle him
still urinating

My sister is dead, he tells
the scowling Egyptian men
holding him
for the police
and they tell the police
he shouted
anti-Muslim slurs

The media weary of
replaying the story of a drunk
who stabbed a Muslim cabbie
and sat down on the sidewalk
finds another drunken
Islamophobic menace
to test its tolerance

"You're famous," a cop tells Omar.
"The Mayor is talking  about
you on the radio."
"Because you urinated
in a mosque."
"I wasn't in no mosque," he protests.
"Tell it to the Mayor."

Later his mother brings him the papers.
"Omar the Carpet-Unmaker", the
New York Post calls him.
The Daily News says that he represents
everything wrong
with the city.
"Couldn't you have gone
somewhere nicer?"
she asks.

"Drunk Shouts, "Terrorists",
Urinates on Mosque Rugs"
NBC News reports and
an FBI Special Agent
Burying the lead,
FOX headlines it,
"Drunk Man Screams Anti-Muslim Slurs
Urinates in Mosque"

"Another Brazen Anti-Muslim Incident"
cries the Huffington Post
and Omar Rivera
who had gone where so many
had gone before
just cries, bewildered
as the mosque raises money
to replace the prayer rugs

Press conferences come
and condemnations
Bloomberg gets
ISNA holds an Interfaith Summit
warning of a tide of violence
when the only tide was
Omar's watered down Cerveza
on the glittery tile of Al-Iman

Islamophobiawatch features it.
"This is a true hate crime,"
says a Mosquegoer
"Without a significant response,"
says Faiza Ali, CAIR spokesman
"this disturbing trend will
continue to grow."
Meanwhile the Al-Iman website
claims the Jews invented AIDS

A woman who hates Israel
and calls herself a Rabbi
raises $1,180
from across America
for new prayer rugs
and Al-Iman kindly gives
her AIDS invention
the benefit
of the doubt

Against the bars of Bellevue
Omar presses his face
watching the rush of traffic
on the FDR Drive
and waiting for his head
to be shrunk
out of its unintentionally
Islamophobic proportions

Outside, prosecutors eager to
fill their notes
with quotes from Jefferson
and Franklin on tolerance
and wait for CNN to call,
to snack on the peanuts
of ABC News' Green Room

But in Astoria, Queens
a big bluff cop
O'Brien, O'Malley
or even Henriquez
who watched Omar
crying in his handcuffs
for his sister
chases down the truth

The Imam of Al-Iman
curses Kuffar
the mosquegoers mutter
Kalb ibn Kalb
and Shatain
as he compares their
statements in his

Henriquez scribbles
filling white pages
and striking out lies
soon there is no shout of
no mosque invasion
no cursing
no tide of violence
no prayer rugs
only a drunk outside a mosque

Up go the notes
prosecutors curse
deputy mayors grit their teeth
tolerance commissioners suggest
going ahead anyway
Bloomberg squints as if chewing on
a sour lemon
and cancels the interfaith
press conference

That night, bewildered and free
Omar Rivera roams Astoria
In Al-Iman, the mosquegoers
flush with $1,180 in infidel cash
rub their dirty socks in the sink
and mutter of the Dar Al-Harb
and the dirty Kuffar

And beneath a crescent moon,
Omar Rivera sips a beer
and hears the Adhan
beneath the elevated tracks
a faint memory stirs
loosing his bladder
he cries Allahu Akbar
and his prayer is answered


  1. This is great! To write such a poem you should be a Master of Libral Arts. Perhaps Brooklyn College would give you a PhD? But then, what does Brooklyn College care for the truth?

  2. Anonymous15/9/13

    Drunk or not, Omar made an honest mistake confusing a Mosque for a urinal.
    Better not publish or the politically correct will have a field day.
    Not Islamaphobic.
    Just fed up.

  3. That police detective sounds like a real hero. We need to find a way to encourage good people like this (especially since he is probably getting flak for pursuing the truth.)

  4. Vegas Dave15/9/13

    Arabs are professional liars Daniel

    I wish you'd point that out more often

  5. Anonymous17/9/13

    knish -- you're a poet, and you dont know it.

    -- spanky

    ps. i did not know that muslims have such clean feet. good to know....


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