Washington: Opposition to the "Ground
Zero" mosque in downtown Manhattan is part of the troubling trend of mounting anti-Muslim sentiment across America, head of a major Muslim advocacy group in the US said.
"In reality, there is a growing pattern of opposing
mosques not near or in the proximity of Ground Zero, but
opposing mosques all over America.
"How far is too close? If two blocks, near Burlington
factory is too close, then why in Brooklyn mosque-building is
being opposed in Sheepshead Bay. Is that far enough? How far
do we go?" Imam Mahdi Bray, executive director of Muslim
America Society`s Mass Freedom, told reporters at the National
Press Club in Washington.
Terming it an "encroachment upon religious liberties
and the freedom of religion", Bray said "not only the mosques
being constructed in New York near Ground Zero and Brooklyn
were challenged but also in California, Tennessee, Wisconsin,
Bary, referring to a research done by Dr Akbar Ahmed
from the American University, said the building of mosques and
the resistance from the building of mosques has increased
throughout the US.
"Also, the destruction and vandalising of mosques,
including a pipe bomb placed in a mosque in Florida where, had
the culprit placed it in the right place, mayhem and certainly
possibly even fatalities would have occurred," he said.
Bray also said that the Muslim American Society was
determined to defend the religious rights and freedoms, and
any encroachment against the cherished principles of religious
freedom for all people, not only Muslims.
"We do believe that the First Amendment of United
States Constitution is sacrosanct," he said at the press
conference which was also addressed by leaders from the Jewish
and Catholic faiths.
Ibrahim Ramey, director of Human and Civil Rights,
Muslim American Society, argued that a mosque at Ground Zero
was essential as part of the healing process.
"There happens to be a huge amount of commercial
development right now in that part of Lower Manhattan. It is
not at the site of the terrorist attacks. No one has protested
any other building or any other commercial activity going on
But there are people who now begin to say that this
ground is sacred because Muslims who had nothing whatsoever to
do with the 9/11 tragedy want to have a community centre and a
worship centre," he said.