August 3rd, 2010 10:01 EST
Will NY Commission Defend Religious Freedom?
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on "American Muslims and other people of conscience" to contact New York`s Landmarks Preservation Commission to ask that its members defend religious freedom and reject efforts by Islamophobes to block construction of an Islamic community center in that city.
The commission will vote Tuesday morning on whether to grant protected status to the building that would be knocked down to make way for the community center. Sources say the existing building does not meet architectural criteria necessary for protection by the city.
SEE: NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission Public Meeting
Opponents of the proposed Islamic community center sought to use the landmark process to block construction.
SEE: Landmark Preservation Committee Expected to OK Mosque Construction Near Ground Zero
"We either believe in the longstanding American value of religious freedom or we don`t," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. "Bigots and extremists should never be granted veto power over constitutionally-protected civil or religious rights."
He noted that CAIR recently called on the Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to retract its "shameful" statement against the construction of the community center.
SEE: CAIR Asks ADL to Retract Statement Against NY Islamic Center
CAIR: New York Mosque Controversy Fires Up National Campaign
"The opponents of construction or expansion of American mosques and Islamic centers are engaging in fear-mongering about Islam and falsely associating it with the 9/11 terror attacks," said Awad. "It is sad that after nine years, there are still those who fail to acknowledge that American Muslims condemned the 9/11 attacks and that mainstream Muslims in America and worldwide have consistently condemned terrorism in all its forms."
SEE: CAIR Anti-Terrorism Campaigns
Awad said opposition to the New York community center and to Islamic centers nationwide is a symptom of growing Islamophobia in America.
SEE: Calif. Mosque Plan Sparks Protest
Texas Mosque Vandalized with Offensive Graffiti and Fire
CAIR Video: Opposition to NY Mosque `Islamophobia Pure and Simple`
Video: CAIR Rep Debates Islamophobia, Opposition to U.S. Mosques
Fla. Church Plans Quran-Burning Event
CAIR is America`s largest Muslim civil liberties group. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.