Build the Ground Zero mosque, ASAP.
That's the recommendation of a specially convened summit of local and national Muslim leaders, who expressed concern Monday over a wave of anti-Muslim bigotry that's been unleashed by the planned construction of the Park51 mosque and community center two blocks from Ground Zero.
"We stand for the constitutional rights of Muslims, and Americans of all faiths, to build houses of worship anywhere in our nation as allowed by local laws and regulations," Imam Al-Amin Latif, president of the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York, told reporters Monday outside the mosque site on Park Place.
It was the first time in 20 years the group had convened a special gathering of Muslim religious leaders from all over the country, said its executive director, Zaheer Uddin. The closed-door summit took place Sunday. The last time was to formulate a response to the Gulf War.
Latif and other Muslim clerics plan a nationwide "Week of Dialogue" Oct. 22 through 24, when they'll hold open houses at their places of worship in a bid to ease tensions caused by the Park51 mosque plan.
"Ground Zero belongs to all Americans," said Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, recalling there were Muslim victims on 9/11 and Muslim first responders.
See also New York Times, 20 September 2010