President Joe Biden asked top Republican and Democratic congressional leaders to join him for a bipartisan prayer session hours ahead of his inauguration, AFP reports. Leaders in Congress were invited to attend services with him at St. Matthews Cathedral in Washington. The cathedral is where the funeral service was held for the only other Catholic […]
Associated Press – July 30, 2010
NEW YORK – America’s leading Jewish civil rights group has come out against the planned mosque and Islamic community center near the World Trade Center’s ground zero site, saying the location is “counterproductive to the healing process.”
The mosque and community center would be located two blocks from the lower Manhattan site of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
The Anti-Defamation League said it rejects any opposition to the center based on bigotry and acknowledged that the group behind the plan, the Cordoba Initiative, has the legal right to build at the site.
“Ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right,” the ADL said in a statement. “In our judgment, building an Islamic center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.”
The Cordoba Initiative did not comment Friday.
Based in New York, Cordoba aims to improve relations between Islam and the West by hosting leadership conferences for young American Muslims, and organizing programs on Arab-Jewish relations, building civil society in the Muslim world and empowering Muslim women.
Cordoba purchased the property for $4 million and planned to build a 13-story, $100 million Islamic center, of which the mosque would be a part.
Cordoba’s director, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, has not disclosed the funding sources for the project. But Sharif El-Gamal, the CEO of the company that owns the property, has said the project’s backers were committed to transparency and would work with the attorney general’s watchdog Charities Bureau.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg supports the mosque’s construction. Disagreement over the project has become a national issue, drawing opposition from former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin, among others.
The ADL, one of the most prominent groups in American Jewish life, is known for its advocacy of religious freedom and interfaith harmony. Its position on the mosque was met with shock and condemnation by several groups.
Jeremy Ben-Ami, head of J Street, a dovish pro-Israel group, said he would hope ADL would be at the forefront in defending the freedom of a religious minority, “rather than casting aspersions on its funders and giving in to the fear-mongerers.”
The Rev. Welton Gaddy, head of the Interfaith Alliance, a Washington advocacy group, said he read the ADL statement “with a great deal of sorrow.”
“As an organization that for nearly 100 years has helped set the standard for fighting defamation and securing justice and fair treatment for all, it is disappointing to see the ADL arrived at this conclusion,” Gaddy said.
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