Unlike many Muslim countries, where it can be difficult, if not impossible, to get a building permit for non-Muslim houses of worship, in America we celebrate our tradition of freedom of worship and seek to set an example for others.
While intolerance is rapidly growing in some European countries – witness the recent referendum in Switzerland to ban the construction of minarets – we reject that kind of narrow-mindedness and the fear it bespeaks.
We hope the Cordoba Center will fulfill the lofty mission its founders have articulated. They have set the bar high, describing it as a Muslim-inspired institution similar to the 92nd Street Y (a well-known Jewish community center in Manhattan.) If so, it means a facility truly open to the entire community – and to a wide spectrum of ideas based on peace and coexistence.
Once up and running, it won’t be long before we know if the founders have delivered on their promise. If so, New York and America will be enriched. If not, the center should be shunned.”
In addition, Harris urged the leaders of the proposed center to fully reveal their sources of funding and to unconditionally condemn terrorism inspired by Islamist ideology.
If these concerns can be addressed, we will join in welcoming the Cordoba Center to New York. In doing so, we would wish to reaffirm the noble values for which our country stands – the very values so detested by the perpetrators of the September 11th attacks.