New York: The nation`s leading Jewish civil
rights group is opposing the planned mosque and Islamic
community center near ground zero.
The Anti-Defamation League says it condemns the bigotry
expressed against the proponents of the mosque, but says a
mosque at that site will cause more pain for some victims.
The ADL is known for its advocacy of religious freedom
and interfaith harmony. Its position on the mosque was met
with shock and condemnation by several groups.
The head of the liberal-leaning pro-Israel group J Street
says the ADL is giving in to fear-mongerers. The Interfaith
Alliance in Washington says it`s disappointed in the ADL.
The group planning the mosque, the Cordoba Initiative,
did not immediately comment on Saturday.
The groups that support the plan assert that building
a mosque will be a symbol of tolerance in New York City, which
is home to people from all around the world practicing
They also say that the Islamic centre will be a venue
to promote moderate Islam and practice interfaith dialogue.
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, for instance,
came out in a powerful defense for the Cordoba House to be
built near Ground Zero.
"I think it`s fair to say if somebody was going to
try, on that piece of property, to build a church or a
synagogue, nobody would be yelling and screaming," Bloomberg
said in May.
"And the fact of the matter is that Muslims have a
right to do it, too".
The Islamic center will have a swimming pool,
basketball court, meeting rooms, a 500-seat auditorium,
banquet facilities, theatrical programming, art exhibitions
and cooking classes, according to Rauf.
But the Jewish group noted that "the controversy which
has emerged regarding the building of an Islamic Center at
this location is counterproductive to the healing process".
"Under these unique circumstances, we believe the City
of New York would be better served if an alternative location
could be found," it added.