Muslim Community Center in lower Manhattan — yes

All Americans have the right to free assembly and to worship where and as they please.  As members of a minority group, American Jews are particularly sensitive to the need to protect these rights.

The Cordoba Initiative has a ten-year history as a moderate Muslim voice cultivating multi-cultural and multi-faith understanding.  This is exactly the face of Islam that should be visible near the site where the hatred of extremist Islamists perpetrated the tragedy of 9/11.   If we are to heal the breach represented by that day, we need moderate and flexible partners on both sides.  The Cordoba Initiative is one example of that kind of partner among American Muslims.  It is also a reminder to us non-Muslims that what happened at the World Trade Towers is not the best that Islam has to offer — any more than Meir Kahane is the best that Judaism has to offer.

Cordoba House is not primarily a mosque, but rather a community center, like a JCC or YMCA.  It will contain within it both Muslim and contemplative prayer spaces, as well as a memorial to the 9/11 victims.  But that’s only one small part.  Its recreational facilities, art and cultural programs, senior programs, etc., will be open to all.

There has been a Muslim community in lower Manhattan for years; the founder and director of the Cordoba Initiative, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, has for 27 years been Imam of a mosque 12 blocks away.  By building here, this community of Americans are more firmly connecting themselves to America and to our values of openness, freedom, and acceptance of others.

Here is the link to the Cordoba Initiative’s “FAQ” page. It lays to rest a lot of the wild accusations that are floating around.