The Brooklyn-based Pakistani American Youth Organization (PAYO) and Council Member Jumaane D. Williams on Friday held a ceremony to unveil Muhammad Ali Jinnah Way, a newly co-named street in Midwood, named for the founder of Modern Pakistan.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah Way now runs along Coney Island Avenue, from Avenue C to Avenue H.
This stretch of Coney Island Avenue is considered at the heart of a thriving Pakistani American community in Brooklyn.
Williams, who represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn, said the area is often referred to as “Little Pakistan,” a designation that Williams said he is seeking from city government following Friday’s co-naming event.
The celebration was held at the intersection of Coney Island Avenue and Foster Avenue, with the newly-unveiled sign at the core of the Pakistani community in Central Brooklyn.
Elected officials and community leaders came together along, with a crowd of over 100, to unveil the new sign.
Besides Williams, speakers included Borough President Eric Adams; Acting Consul General of Pakistan Naeem Cheema; Assembly Members Rodneyse Bichotte and Robert Carroll; Council Members Mathieu Eugene and Chaim Deutsch; and District Leader Doug Schneider.
Williams noted that Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the founder of modern Pakistan.
“He worked for years in and outside of government to advance the causes of both independence of the subcontinent from British rule and the creation of Pakistan,” Williams said. “He passed away in 1948, just a year after Pakistan officially became independent.
“He is revered by the Pakistani people for his skill, tenacity and leadership as the ‘father of a nation,’” he added.
Williams said there have been several efforts, over the years, to create Little Pakistan and the co-naming.
He said PAYO has spent years organizing the effort to co-name Muhammad Ali Jinnah Way.
“They collected and submitted hundreds of community signatures, as well as letters of support from elected officials,” Williams.
He said PAYO approached him in September 2018, adding that “the legislative effort culminated in December when the co-naming was officially approved.
“Today’s ceremony unveiled the new distinction in the neighborhood,” Williams said. “The Pakistani American community means so much to my district, so much to this city, and it’s vital that communities see themselves, their culture, and their cultural leaders represented.
“It’s so exciting to finally make this recognition, this cultural landmark, a reality,” he added. “I want to thank PAYO and everyone who helped to make today possible. On to Little Pakistan!”
PAYO Vice President Jawad Shabir said: “Once you are an immigrant, you never forget you are one.
“Together, PAYO and the community will create equality,” he said.
Williams said the area was chosen for the recognition because of “the deep roots that Pakistani culture has in the neighborhood, with a variety of Pakistani restaurants and businesses lining Coney Island Avenue.”
He said is also the site of the largest Brooklyn Mela, a day parade celebrating Pakistan’s Independence Day, adding that the surrounding community “continues to draw Pakistani immigrants to New York City.”