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Coalition Aims to Build Support for Park51

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - 05:36 PM

At this weekend's dueling rallies over the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero, this much was clear: The opposition to the project is larger and much better organized. In addition to having at least double the turnout of supporters, opponents had a stage and soundsystem and proper, printed signs that conveyed something to people watching on their TV sets, anywhere in the world.

Now, supporters of the Park51development are hoping to change that. Tomorrow, a large coalition of groups and individuals (full list below) is announcing its formation. It's called the Coalition of New York Neighbors for American Values, and it includes the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Manhattan Young Democrats, Common Cause/New York, CAIR-NY and the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Separately, Frank Fredericks, who briefly worked as a consultant for the Cordoba Initiative, and who happens to be a Born Again Christian, has co-founded Religious Freedom USA, which is organizing its first event on September 12: the Liberty Walk, which will stop by various religious institutions, including the site of Park51. Fredericks says the group will help address the fear, as he sees it, that many Americans have of Muslims, and help understand the place of Muslims in American society.

The group says it expects 1,000 to 2,000 people at its event, but is asking people to not bring signs -- just American flags.

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List of groups in Coalition of New York Neighbors for American Values:

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), Auburn Theological Seminary, Brooklyn for Peace, Citizen Action of New York, Common Cause/New York, Community Voices Heard, Convergence of Cultures/NY, Council on American-Islamic Relations-NY, Demos, Downtown Independent Democrats, Good Jobs New York, Greater NYC for Change, Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition, Interfaith Center of New York, Islamic Mission of America inc., Jews for Racial and Economic Justice [JFREJ], Judson Memorial Church, Lower Manhattan Democrats (LMD), Manhattan Young Democrats, Middle East Crisis Response (MECR), Muslim Consultative Network, Muslim Public Affairs Council -NYC

New York Civil Liberties Union, New York Theological Seminary, New York City New Sanctuary Movement, Pax Christi Metro New York, The Dialogue Project, The New York City Chapter of Humanist Party, The Shalom Center, Woodstock International and Talat Hamdani

Mother of Mohammad Salman Hamdani NYPD Cadet, EMT< WTC II, Hester Eisenstein, Sociology, Queens College and the Graduate Center *, Jennifer Baumgardner, Co-Owner, Soapbox Inc.*, Serene Jones, President, Union Theological Seminary* , Rev. Charles H. Straut, Jr., DMin, Consultant in Ministry, New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church*, Dr. Diane Steinman, Co-Chair, New York State Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform*, Luis Barrios, Ph.D., BCFE, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice- Department of Latin American & Latina/o Studies*, Peter Marcuse, Professor emeritus of Urban Planning, Columbia University*, Rev. Freeman Palmer, Metro Association Minister, United Church of Christ, New York Conference*, Rev Dr Rita M Root, Interim Conference Minister, New York Conference, United Church of Christ*, Rev. Dr. Robert L. Brashear, Pastor, West-Park Presbyterian Church*, Tarak Kauff , Veterans For Peace, MECR, Editor Woodstock International newspaper*

*Organization listed by the coalition for identification purposes only.

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Comments [4]

Dale from NYC

CAIR is an FBI identified Front Group created for Hamas. CAIR supports terrorism. Any group CAIR is a member of is highly suspect and should be investigated.

Aug. 25 2010 09:15 PM
Cormac from Downtown NYC

Terry Grace asked:

"However, why would anyone on any community board be so ignorant of public opinion as to not have a longer hearing process before trying to approve a project like this that has caused so much hate and pain."

This project went through YEARS of local vetting and discussion. It was overwhelmingly supported by the residents and business in the local neighborhood. The hate and pain has been caused not by locals, but by the New York Post and professional anti-Islam bigots on-line. If everyone who lived above 14th Street and across the rivers (let far off in distant states) would butt out there would be no controversy, no pain, and no hate associated with this project.

Aug. 25 2010 08:52 AM
Terry Grace from New York City

I completely support the US constitutional right to worship. I support the right of property owners to use their property as they wish -- within community guidelines. However, why would anyone on any community board be so ignorant of public opinion as to not have a longer hearing process before trying to approve a project like this that has caused so much hate and pain. How dumb can you be? The anger and acrimony is not of God by any name --and it is not who we are as New Yorkers. That being said, if I bought a piece of property and its proposed use caused so much pain, I would go to Plan B. No good can come from this rubbing of salt into the open wound of a majority of New Yorkers who still remember the sting of their eyes and the painful coughs as they breathed the air after 9-11. If Imam Rauf is about real peace, why would he not move this project to another site for the sake of that peace, regardless of legalities? Or does he really want this project to be what it has become now, a symbol of division and hate? A man of God would not continue to foster pain. Please give us peace. Go in Peace -- anywhere, but on this site now.

Aug. 24 2010 08:57 PM
Sarah Barton-King from NYC

Perhaps if we thought this through rationally and decided that because there are several buildings thst could be converted or re-built, why not make them all into centres for different faiths and activities or even better, wowee......one big inter-faith building to show the world that yes, the USA is a leader in the world of diplomacy, yes, we are progressive and would like to encourage inter-faith relationships and stop this bickering that is clearly being used and abused by the right wing radicals who seem hell bent on destroying the very country that they purport to love. Enough of the Glen Beck Rush Limbaugh Sarah Palin John McCain rhetoric and also that silly, mean and nasty minded little man Rupert Murdoch who sends money and to support it and publishes on tv and in print all the fiery rubbish that creates wars. Clearly these people make money from wars!

Aug. 24 2010 06:20 PM

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