The fact is that a growing number of Americans – now 71% according to the latest CBS News poll - simply don’t believe the Ground Zero site is an appropriate site for the mosque. I hope you’re not suggesting that nearly three-out-of-four Americans are intolerant because they don’t want a mosque built on that site?
No matter how you try, this isn’t about religious discrimination or intolerance. This is about constructing a mosque on the very spot where the landing gear of one of the hijacked planes crashed into the building on this site. Certainly you can understand the feelings of the families and victims of 9-11 – including our client – NYC firefighter and first responder Tim Brown – who survived the attack but lost nearly 100 colleagues that day. For them, the pain never ends. They consider this site hallowed ground and, like most Americans, don’t believe this is the place to build a mosque. To them, it’s insensitive. To them, it should be a memorial – not a mosque. It really is as simple as that.
And it’s not just the families and friends of 9-11 victims who oppose the location. The opposition crosses the political spectrum. One of the nation’s most liberal Democrats, Howard Dean, says the site should not house a mosque. Calling the project “a real affront to people who lost their lives,” Dean says the site “belongs to all Americans and all faiths.” And, a growing number of Muslims don’t think it’s a good idea either – including a former Pakistani Ambassador to Britain who says building a mosque there is “like rubbing salt in open wounds.”
By the way, we will be amending our legal challenge in the weeks ahead adding additional parties and causes of action. Important information was not previously disclosed about the ownership of the site. It turns out that a public utility, Con Edison, actually owns one-half of the site. We will argue that the mosque developers do not possess the legal right to proceed with demolition or construction. In addition to urging the court to put any demolition/construction on hold, we’ll request that the New York State Public Service Commission, which has regulatory authority of any disposition of land owned by a public utility, conduct a required review detailing the impact of this project.
As we learn more about the project, we also learn more about Imam Rauf – the man behind the proposed mosque – a man who touts himself as a bridge builder.
This is the Imam who’s on a taxpayer funded goodwill trip about Islam to the Middle East. By the way, it appears the federal government has been using millions in taxpayer funds for some time to fund restoration of mosques and minarets in dozens of nations around the globe. A little reported story that I thought you might be interested in, Barry.
Let’s not forget that it was Imam Rauf who told 60 minutes days after the 9-11 attacks that that U.S. was “an accessory to the crimes” that occurred that day. This is the same Imam who has refused to label Hamas a terrorist organization. Hamas, by the way, wasted no time in backing Imam Rauf’s plans for the Ground Zero mosque.
This is the same Imam who said “that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims” – alleging that US-led sanctions against Iraq led to the death of Iraqi children. The facts don’t support that allegation. President Clinton clearly stated: “If any child is without food or medicine or a roof over his or her head in Iraq, it’s because he [Saddam] is claiming sanctions are doing it and sticking it to his own children.” And, it’s important to remember that al Qaeda actually targets the innocent – including children – with its acts of terrorism. The comparison is absurd.
And where will the $100 million dollars come from to build this mosque? Backers of the project haven’t ruled out taking money from countries like Iran which has been designated a sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. government.
Barry, there’s still a lot of unanswered questions about all of this. But, here’s a suggestion that would go a long way in promoting tolerance in this situation.
Why not move the mosque? Why don’t the mosque developers and Imam Rauf – who proclaims to be a bridge-builder – step forward with the ultimate bridge-building gesture? Build the mosque somewhere else – not at Ground Zero – not at this site.
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