Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife, Daisy Khan, are trying to build a Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan that has morphed into a heated national controversy about Sept. 11, Islam and freedom of religion. He serves at a mosque in New York City’s financial district. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has forcefully defended the Park51, a $100 million project as a symbol of America’s religious tolerance. President Obama defended their right to build a mosque wherever local laws allowed, although he afterward said that he was not endorsing the project, but simply trying to uphold the broader principle that government should “treat everybody equally,” regardless of religion.
But Republican leaders, like the former House speaker, Newt Gringrich, and Sarah Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee, assailed the proposal, calling it offensive. The Anti-Defamation League, an influential Jewish civil rights group, also declared its opposition to the center [named Park51], distressing many in the interfaith community. Read more