2006_3_wbway1.jpgWhoa-- the New York State Liquor Authority has issued a fatwa against a bunch of bars on West Broadway in Tribeca. Their crime? Apparently they are located a little too close to a low-profile mosque located in one of the nearby buildings (the Sufi Masjid al-Farah at 245 West Broadway.). The SLA has issued summons to The Bubble Lounge, Cercle Rouge, and the Tribeca Tavern. Another bar, The Liquor Store, has already been denied a liquor license, preventing it from reopening after an ownership change last year. The Tribeca Tribune broke the story:

When bar or restaurant owners apply for a liquor license, they must swear that they are not violating the 200-foot law. If the SLA decides that the owner has falsified his application, he can lose his right to a license for two years. The West Broadway bar owners are pleading not guilty.

Georges Forgeois, who owns Cercle Rouge, said he thought Sufism, a branch of Islam, was “more a philosophy,” rather than a religion. Besides, he said, several bars were already on the block when he moved in. “You cannot have someone spend all that money, then tell them that they can’t have their license,” he said. “That’s not fair.”

Tribeca Tavern owner Greg Kosovoi said that for 10 years he was unaware that a mosque was next door. Eric Benn, co-owner of the 11-year-old Bubble Lounge, said the same.

“None of us knew there was a mosque there,” he said. “What kind of research are we supposed to do? Do we knock on every single door?”

We understand that not everyone likes living near a bar-- but this seems like a really underhanded way to get rid of some businesses that have been a part of the neighborhood for years. [Related: reports:">the Post and Eater also have reports.]