Muslim Leaders Rally In Support Of Downtown Islamic Center

Leaders from 55 major mosques and Islamic organizations held a rally on the steps of City Hall today to speak out against against religious intolerance and defend the building of the Park51 Islamic cultural center in Downtown Manhattan and other mosques in America. Before a large crowd, speakers said that there is a rising tide of intolerance against Muslims in the United States. They also said that across the country politicians are fanning the flames of controversy over the proposed Manhattan mosque on Park Place. The demonstrators said that Islam is not a foreign religion to the United States, and has deep roots in the country's history. They also remarked on how the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of religious expression. "This kind of verbal assault upon Islam and Muslims is unprecedented in our history," said Imam Al-Amin Abdul Latif of Majlis Ash-Shura of New York. "This nation was founded on the values of religious freedom and tolerance and fairness and justice and pluralism. We're going backwards." Opponents to the proposed Islamic center say that the project should be moved from the building located a few blocks away from the World Trade Center, to honor the sensitivities of families of September 11th victims and first responders. Yet Manhattan Congressman Charles Rangel, who participated in the rally, said that is not a valid reason for moving the project, and it would impede the mosque developers' constitutional rights. "They are our heroes, they are the ones that responded on December 7 at Pearl Harbor, and they are the ones that responded for 9/11," said Rangel. "If there's anything that we can do to ease the pain, we should do it 100 percent, but not at the expense of the Constitution. That is two separate things." The protestors say they would stand behind the developers of the mosque if they chose to move it to a different location, but they said that would not address what they call "Islamophobia" in the rest of the country. Meanwhile, a Muslim c