20 Sep 2010, MYFOXNY.COM – Muslim leaders from around the country held a summit Sunday in New York. Then Monday, they gathered to call for a national week of dialogue in October to stem what they feel is a rising tide of intolerance toward Muslims. They are also asking mosques across the country to open their doors to people of all faiths.
“We have more than 2,000 mosques and asking them all to open their mosques,” said Dr. Zahid Bukhari of the Islamic Circle of North America.
The Muslim leaders representing about 60 mosques and Muslim organizations want the doors open the week beginning October 22 to promote healing and understanding and to quell concerns about the controversial mosque in Lower Manhattan.
“We stand for the constitutional right of Muslims, and Americans of all faiths, to build houses of worship anywhere in our nation as allowed by local laws and regulations,” the Muslim leaders said in a statement delivered at the site of the proposed Islamic center and mosque, to be called Park51.
The group also says the public needs to know that Muslim prayer spaces are not anything new at Ground Zero. Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid of the Islamic Leadership Council of New York said that the south tower of the World Trade Center had a Muslim prayer space.
The Muslim leaders are hoping the open houses in October will encourage the public to observe or participate in prayer service and learn more about Muslims to break down the wall of suspicion and fear.
However, Imam Mahdi Bray, who spoke at the news conference, has been a lightening rod in the past. He is the same man seen in a 10-year-old video ago pumping his fist in the air and cheering in support of the terrorist group Hamas.
But Monday, Imam Bray said that the video clip was taken out of context and that his focus has always been to support civil rights.
The group is hoping that opening the mosques to the public will be a powerful step toward healing and understanding.