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Upper West Side Parking Dispute Breaks Out Between Muslim Cab Drivers, Residents

Drivers: We Need To Park To Go Pray; NYPD Under Pressure To Enforce Laws
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FILE - A taxi sign is seen in New York City (credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

FILE – A taxi sign is seen in New York City (credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A neighborhood feud has developed between cab drivers and residents on the Upper West Side. Cabbies say they are being targeted for their religion — and they’re fighting back.

Hundreds of worshipers come for the mid-day services once a week to an Islamic center on West 72nd Street. Many of them are cab drivers and their cars line the streets.

“We need a place so we can park and pray,” one driver said.

However, people who live in the area are complaining that Fridays have become a nightmare.

“It’s a problem,” resident Richard Sheely said.

“Well, ‘cause they triple park!” added another resident.

And it’s sparking tension in the neighborhood.

Exclusive video obtained by CBS 2 shows the aftermath of a tense showdown between police and cabbies.

Cabbie Mohamed Ali said he was arrested when he confronted police after being ticketed.

“He said … he screamed at us because you are double parking guys,” Ali said.

Most of the cabbies park in a “No Standing” zone. It’s illegal but they say police have been cutting them a break for prayer services — until recently.

“It’s only like half an hour. We’re not blocking for all the day like for a street fair!” driver Berhoumi el Nour said.

But after a number of complaints to 311 police have begun enforcing the rules to an extent.

On Friday, Brown found several traffic cops patrolling to prevent cabbies from double parking, but allowing them to leave their cars in “No Standing” zones.

It’s special treatment that’s leaving some residents fuming.

“No, I don’t think there should be special privileges for people. If that’s the law that’s the law,” resident Marta Black said.

“I don’t think a Muslim would go to a Christian or Jewish neighborhood to disrupt them. That’s why we, the Muslims, we are so angry about this,” cabbie Abdul Rahim said.

Police said they’ve issued 30 tickets in the last two weeks, mostly for double parking. And they are warning cab drivers that they will be ticketed for breaking the law.

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