9/11 Families Reject Towering Mosque Planned for Ground Zero Site
New York, May 24, 2010 -- 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America (9/11 FSSA) adamantly rejects the plan for a mosque to be built atop a planned 15-story structure that would tower over the site where nearly 3,000 people were killed by Islamic terrorists.
According to the project's leader, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the mosque and "Muslim-led community center" is to be called the Cordoba House, named after the historic period when the Islamic Caliphate in Cordoba ruled much of Europe and non-Muslims lived as second-class citizens under Islamic rule.
Victims' families view the imam's expressed plan to "leverage" the mosque's proximity to Ground Zero to engage in proselytizing and to "grow the Muslim community," as shockingly insensitive to the history of the site where their loved ones were slaughtered in the worst terrorist attack by extremist Muslims in America's history; following the attack, 20,000 body parts were recovered in a nine-month operation to remove 1.8 million tons of rubble from Lower Manhattan.
"Imam Rauf is a Muslim cleric who, immediately after 9/11, blamed the attacks on U.S. treatment of Muslims, asserting that Osama Bin Ladin was 'made in the U.S.A,'" said Debra Burlingame, co-founder of 9/11 FSSA, whose brother was the pilot of the American Airlines flight which was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon. "We do not accept the Cordoba organization's view that we need Imam Rauf to lecture us about religious tolerance in a city still dealing with the consequences of the attack that he claims we brought on ourselves."
Last Monday, representatives of 9/11 FSSA met with Sharif El-Gamal, owner and CEO of Soho Properties, the corporation that purchased the two buildings where the mosque will be built at 43-45 Park Place, and asked him to name the investors in the mosque project. Mr. El-Gamal refused, citing the advice of his attorneys, stating that "this is private property" and that "we can build this 'as of right.'" The property was purchased with $4.85 million in cash.
Imam Rauf is now publicly stating in a professionally-organized PR campaign that the building will be a community center, "not a mosque." However, Mr. El-Gamal showed 9/11 FSSA members architectural renderings in which a mosque, located on the top floor of the 15-story building, would have a commanding view of the entire Ground Zero neighborhood.
Equally troubling is the fact that, while the stated purpose of the project is to engage in interfaith dialogue and cultural egalitarianism, Imam Rauf embraces Shariah, the Arabic word for Islamic law, a sociopolitical system of jurisprudence based upon the Koran which supersedes man-made law and which rejects the Constitutional doctrine of the separation of church and state. Islamic countries that embrace Shariah and political Islam are known for brutal policies that discriminate against women, gays, and religious minorities. Shariah law is entirely incompatible with the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment and would violate 1st Amendment protections of speech, assembly and the free exercise of religion.
We feel that the attempt to use our loved ones' deaths and the painful legacy of 9/11 still felt by New Yorkers to engage in a campaign to reverse America's core doctrine of religious freedom -- and to do so under the guise of interfaith understanding -- is a gross insult to the memory of those who were killed on that terrible day.
9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America asks concerned Americans -- regardless of race, color, creed, or ethnic origin--to join us in denouncing this effort to chip away at America's bedrock principle of religious freedom.