Growing Support for "Ground Zero Mosque" Among Family of 9/11 Victims
Despite growing opposition to the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero, several families of 9/11 victims, along with religious and civil rights groups, have formed a coalition of supporters for the construction of the controversial mosque. Standing near City Hall in downtown Manhattan, the group known as the New York Neighbors for American Values announced their advocacy for religious freedom and tolerance through their support of the "Ground Zero Mosque".
The formation of this group is likely the result of an overwhelming amount of opposition toward the Cordoba House Islamic community center. Based on a recent poll, 63 percent of American voters are against the building of the community center while a mere 27 percent support it.
In New York, buses and taxis display ads asking "Why There" in front of a backdrop of the collapsing World Trade Centers. The anti-mosque initiative reached an apex several days ago when 700 protesters saw a man wearing an Under Armor swimming cap and mistook it for a skull cap and were videotaped shouting obscenities at the passerby even though the individual in question was a non-Muslim.
Many believe the catalyst to the anti-mosque rhetoric was conservative blogger Pamela Geller. On her blog Atlas Shrugs, she diligently posted articles chronicling the movement against Islam as well as spread conspiracy theories about Islamic cultural supremacy within the United States. She often uses the families of 9/11 victims to support her views about the controversy.
The NYNAV serves a dual role as a foil to islamaphobic ideology, as well as proof that not all 9/11 families are against the mosque.
Talat Hamdani, who lost her 23-year-old son in the 9/11 attacks, said that supporting the Islamic center "has to do with the standing up for human rights, including freedom of religion."
Despite being in the minority, supporters of the Islamic community center vehemently believe their cause is just. Congressman Paul Tonko told reporters, "In this country we hold dear our right to religious freedom, and to deny that right for any reason is simply un-American."