The Anti-Defamation League has issued a statement opposing the building of a mosque near the World Trade Center memorial site. The proposed construction of Cordoba House, a Muslim center at 45-47 Park Place, just two blocks from the former World Trade Center, has sparked a heated debate.
Supporters of the plan accuse opponents of bigotry, slamming them for equating all Muslims with the 9/11 terrorists. In its statement Friday opposing the plan, the ADL called the bigotry that has surrounded the decision "unfair and wrong" but nonetheless opposes the construction, it says, out of sensitivity to those who had family members killed on 9/11.
"There are understandably strong passions and keen sensitivities surrounding the World Trade Center site. We are ever mindful of the tragedy which befell our nation there, the pain we all still feel — and especially the anguish of the families and friends of those who were killed on September 11, 2001," the statement reads. "The controversy which has emerged regarding the building of an Islamic Center at this location is counterproductive to the healing process. Therefore, under these unique circumstances, we believe the City of New York would be better served if an alternative location could be found."
The ADL statement also evinces concern about the motivation behind the proposed mosque.
"In recommending that a different location be found for the Islamic Center, we are mindful that some legitimate questions have been raised about who is providing the funding to build it, and what connections, if any, its leaders might have with groups whose ideologies stand in contradiction to our shared values," the statement continued. "These questions deserve a response, and we hope those backing the project will be transparent and forthcoming. But regardless of how they respond, the issue at stake is a broader one. "The ADL has in the past also opposed the construction of a convent at Auschwitz."
The whole statement is on the ADL's website.
The president of the Interfaith Alliance, Rev. Welton Gaddy, expressed his disappointment in the ADL's statement, especially because it came from an organization that tries to protect civil liberties.
"Those who claim to defend religious freedom can not turn their back on it when faced with controversy," he said. "It is unfair to prejudge the impact this center can have on reconciliation before it is even built. And we must remember that just because someone prays in a mosque, that does not make them any less of a citizen than you or I."
Here is the whole statement:
Washington, DC — Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, expressed his disappointment today about a statement released by the Anti-Defamation League on the proposed Islamic Center in Lower Manhattan near the site of Ground Zero. It was with a great deal of sorrow that I read the carefully constructed statement from the Anti-Defamation League on the proposed mosque in lower Manhattan. 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. The Interfaith Alliance's work is driven by the fundamental principal that protecting religious freedom is most critical in times of crisis. And those who claim to defend religious freedom can not turn their back on it when faced with controversy. It is unfair to prejudge the impact this center can have on reconciliation before it is even built. And we must remember that just because someone prays in a mosque, that does not make them any less of a citizen than you or I. We agree with the ADL that there is a need for transparency about who is funding the effort to build this Islamic center. At the same time, we should also ask who is funding the attacks against the construction of the center. We must never bow to bigotry within the US, just as we would never bow to tyranny from the outside.