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US Jewish group apologises for opposing mosque near Ground Zero 

September 6, 2021 at 1:53 pm

A Port Authority Police officer in Ground Zero on August 31, 2021 in New York City [Shahar Azran/Getty Images]

The CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has issued an apology to the Muslim community for the organisation’s opposition to the proposed establishment of a mosque near Ground Zero in New York. The apology comes as the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches.

In an opinion piece for CNN, Jonathan Greenblatt acknowledged that the ADL’s stance 11 years ago against the then-proposed Park51 Islamic Community Centre and Mosque, originally known as Cordoba House, was “wrong, plain and simple”. The move apparently follows deep reflection and conversation with friends from the Muslim community.

“We can’t change the past,” he added. “But we accept responsibility for our unwise stance on Cordoba House, apologise without caveat and commit to doing our utmost going forward to use our expertise to fight anti-Muslim bias as allies.”

Greenblatt recognised that there are “signs of another surge in anti-Muslim hate” in the US, particularly over the arrival of Afghan refugees to the country, following the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.

“We’ve seen it before,” he explained, alluding to the aftermath of the attacks on 11 September in 2001. The FBI recorded a massive spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes from 28 incidents in 2000 to 481 the following year.

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Such sentiments would resurface in 2010, said the ADL official, over the media storm surrounding Cordoba House — widely dubbed as “Ground Zero Mosque” — when Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and Daisy Khan intended to establish the mosque as a means to build bridges between the Islamic world and the US. However, a CNN poll conducted around the same time revealed that Americans opposed the project by 60 per cent to 29 per cent.

Greenblatt noted the ADL’s role in this with its 2010 statement, which was published before his tenure. According to the 2010 press release, while the ADL agreed with the notion of freedom and rights of all Americans to practise their faith, “There are understandably strong passions and keen sensitivities surrounding the World Trade Centre site.”

The building and location of the Islamic Centre is counterproductive to the healing process, explained the ADL eleven years ago. “In our judgement, building an Islamic Centre in the shadow of the World Trade Centre will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.”

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