—FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—
JAMAICA, New York (August 15, 2010) – In a press release issued today the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) commended President Barack Obama for his Ramadan dinner speech at the White House on Friday in which he strongly defended the legitimate rights of the Muslim community amidst the unwanted controversy regarding the proposed location of the “Cordoba Center” near ground zero in lower Manhattan in New York City.
ICNA also thanked the NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his unrelenting support for building the proposed “Islamic center and mosque” near Ground Zero.
ICNA understands and empathizes with the feelings of those who lost their loved ones in the terrorist attack of 9/11 (ICNA itself lost one of its activists in this attack), but that shouldn’t be the cause of opposing construction of any mosque near Ground Zero.
ICNA is concerned by the recent rise of Islamophobia, and condemns those whose aim is to deny American Muslims their basic, legitimate right to build a house of worship. Such freedoms are granted to those of all faiths, and to promote bigoted views regarding this center is to undermine the principles of the Constitution.
Dr. Zahid Bukhari, President of ICNA said, “There have been times in the history of our nation when the core principles of freedom of worship, justice and equality for all were tested. I have no doubt that these values will prevail again and make our nation even stronger against extremism, bigotry and Islamophobia.”
At the annual White House Iftar Dinner, President Obama addressed the mosque controversy saying, “Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country… This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are.” Mayor Bloomberg also made compelling statements regarding the center. “We would be untrue to the best part of ourselves and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans if we said no to a mosque in lower Manhattan… We would betray our values and play into our enemies’ hands if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists, and we should not stand for that.”
Dr. Bukhari thanked President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg for their support of the Muslim community, saying their statements “protect the core American values of tolerance and religious freedom. These remarks embrace the diversity and unity that Americans stand for, and testify to the foundations upon which this country was built. We must not succumb to those who attempt to deny these freedoms to any group.” He also extended his thanks to New York’s Landmark Preservation Commission for denying landmark status to the center’s proposed location, essentially clearing hurdles for its construction.
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