NEW YORK (WPIX)—9/11 victims' families will join with more than three dozen other organizations today to show their support for building an Islamic Center near Ground Zero in an effort to re-frame the debate on the controversial site.
The group September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows,is part of a collection of 40 organizations that calls itself the Religious Freedom Coalition. At noon today, the coalition will gather across from City Hall at the Manhattan Municipal Building to express support in a news conference for building the Islamic Center two-and-a-half blocks north of the World Trade Center site.
It happens the day after hip-hop business mogul Russell Simmons unveiled an artwork in the windows of his apartment that faces Ground Zero. The art piece features a series of religious symbols, beginning with the Muslim crescent and star, that together are meant to spell out the word "co-exist." The display also reads USA equals free and "It's the Law."
Also, Archbishop Timothy Dolan has apparently changed his public stance on the issue, saying Tuesday that he doesn't have strong feelings whether or not an Islamic Center is located near Ground Zero. In the past, he had called for it to move elsewhere.
Mayor Bloomberg gave another strong endorsement of the Islamic Center project now called Park 51 at a Ramadan meal he hosted at Gracie Mansion Tuesday. In an impassioned speech the Mayor said, "If we say that a mosque and community center should not be built near the perimeter of the World Trade Center site, we would compromise our commitment to fighting terror with freedom."
The mayor went on to suggest that a compromise would not be a victory by any means.
"The question will then become, how big should the 'no-mosque zone' around the World Trade Center site be? There is already a mosque four blocks away. Should it too, be moved?" he asked.