Coalition Aims to Build Support for Park51 – WNYC


by Arun Venugopal

At this weekend’s dueling rallies over the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero, this much was clear: The opposition to the project is larger and much better organized. In addition to having at least double the turnout of supporters, opponents had a stage and soundsystem and proper, printed signs that conveyed something to people watching on their TV sets, anywhere in the world.

Now, supporters of the Park51 development are hoping to change that. Tomorrow, a large coalition of groups and individuals (full list below) is announcing its formation. It’s called the Coalition of New York Neighbors for American Values, and it includes the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Manhattan Young Democrats, Common Cause/New York, CAIR-NY and the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Separately, Frank Fredericks, who briefly worked as a consultant for the Cordoba Initiative, and who happens to be a Born Again Christian, has co-founded Religious Freedom USA, which is organizing its first event on September 12: the Liberty Walk, which will stop by various religious institutions, including the site of Park51. Fredericks says the group will help address the fear, as he sees it, that many Americans have of Muslims, and help understand the place of Muslims in American society. The group says it expects 1,000 to 2,000 people at its event, but is asking people to not bring signs — just American flags.

List of groups in Coalition of New York Neighbors for American Values:

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), Auburn Theological Seminary, Brooklyn for Peace, Citizen Action of New York, Common Cause/New York, Community Voices Heard, Convergence of Cultures/NY, Council on American-Islamic Relations-NY, Demos, Downtown Independent Democrats, Good Jobs New York, Greater NYC for Change, Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition, Interfaith Center of New York, Islamic Mission of America inc., Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), Judson Memorial Church, Lower Manhattan Democrats (LMD), Manhattan Young Democrats, Middle East Crisis Response (MECR), Muslim Consultative Network, Muslim Public Affairs Council -NYC, New York Civil Liberties Union, New York Theological Seminary, New York City New Sanctuary Movement, Pax Christi Metro New York, The Dialogue Project, The New York City Chapter of Humanist Party, The Shalom Center, Woodstock International and Talat Hamdani, Mother of Mohammad Salman Hamdani NYPD Cadet, EMT, WTC II, Hester Eisenstein, Sociology, Queens College and the Graduate Center, Jennifer Baumgardner, Co-Owner, Soapbox Inc., Serene Jones, President, Union Theological Seminary , Rev. Charles H. Straut, Jr., DMin, Consultant in Ministry, New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, Dr. Diane Steinman, Co-Chair, New

Organization listed by the coalition for identification purposes only.