CB 9 Addresses Pledge of Allegiance Letter to the Editor

CB 9 Addresses Pledge of Allegiance Letter to the Editor

By Michael V. Cusenza

After a blistering display of support from readers, area leaders, and elected officials, Community Board 9 Chairwoman Sherry Algredo on Tuesday evening sat down for an interview with Forum Editor Michael V. Cusenza.

The Forum over the past week was deluged with letters, phone calls, texts, emails, and social media posts regarding a letter to the editor from community leader Sam Esposito that was published last Thursday in this newspaper. In his missive, Esposito called for the removal of CB 9 First Vice Chairman Faiuze Ali. This isn’t the first time that Esposito, a former longtime member of CB 9, has publicly challenged Ali. Last October, Esposito ripped Ali for wearing a hat during the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, adding that “everyone should respect the flag as a body of appointed members.”

“No board member brought this to my attention,” Algredo said on Tuesday, calling the story “one-sided” and “not the truth.”

“This is wrong on so many levels,” Algredo added. “I was in shock. It came off as a public shaming. I will not tolerate this going forward.”

Algredo called Ali “a very intelligent man—not an anti-country man.” And Ali has said that he has not disrespected the flag or the pledge.

“Americanism is unique and valued. Rest assured, as a citizen of the United States for four decades, my patriotism is resolute,” Ali said in a statement provided to The Forum. “I value and uphold dearly the freedom and liberty that are afforded me and others who call these United States their home.  I salute and honor with pride the men and women who paid the ultimate price with their lives, in safeguarding and preserving individual liberty that I cherish dearly. Similarly, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and paying homage to the American flag and what it represents are sacred embodiment of my Americanism, which I have never avoided.

“As a devout Muslim who place emphasis on my ability to demonstrate in character and attire that religious identity, wearing a head covering, amongst other apparels, is distinguished to the faith.”

Algredo noted that Ali has served the board for seven years.

“Patriotism is not just taking off a hat,” Algredo said. “We are volunteers. It’s also about serving the community.”

In his letter, Esposito called on residents of CB 9 communities (Woodhaven, Kew Gardens, and parts of Ozone Park and Richmond Hill) to flood the offices of the Queens Borough President and area pols demanding that Ali not be reappointed.

“We read about bullying—I’ve been bullied, my kids have been bullied—it’s not a good feeling,” Algredo said, her voice cracking with emotion. “When you add social media, it becomes permanent. Bullying is unacceptable. When is enough enough? Words are very strong. Destroying a life is not the way to go.”

Algredo later noted that the incident will not affect the board’s role in serving the people of South Queens.

“As much as this has put a damper on things, we are still going to serve our communities just as we have before last week,” she said.


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