August 4, 2010


Plan for Islamic Center Near Ground Zero Vaults Latest Hurdle, But Protests Continue (Josh Nathan-Kazis, August 04, 2010, The Forward)

The dilapidated former Burlington Coat Factory on Manhattan’s Park Place seems an unlikely locus for a controversy that has swept up Republican gadflies, political candidates, Jewish leaders, and New York City’s mayor. Through a glass door decorated with a bumper sticker reading “U.S.A.,” one can see a quiet, makeshift Muslim prayer space. Security guards say it is packed with more than 400 worshipers on Friday afternoons, though on a recent weekday the only traffic came from the handful of reporters and technicians from the satellite trucks parked outside the door. [...]

The project, formerly known as Cordoba House but now dubbed Park51, is slated to include a swimming pool, an auditorium, restaurants, bookstores, and a prayer space. Organizers say it is modeled after Jewish community centers.

In interviews in May, Jewish interfaith activists broadly praised Imam Faisal Rauf, the pivotal figure behind the community center effort, as a leading moderate in the Muslim community and a dialogue partner for Jewish groups, although some criticized the decision to build the mosque and community center so close to the former site of the Twin Towers.

“He’s one of the most constructive forces of Islam in the U.S. today, and indeed internationally,” Rabbi David Rosen, AJC’s international director of interreligious affairs, said at the time. “I think he is a very fair man, and the kind of Muslim voice we need to empower and encourage.”

In an interview on August 2, ADL national director Abraham Foxman seemed to concur. “I know he’s moderate; I know we’ve worked with him; I know we’ve put him on our platform,” Foxman said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 4, 2010 1:22 PM
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