As board members of the Inter-Religious Council of Linn County, we applaud The Gazette’s Aug. 20 editorial, “Religious freedom and the N.Y. mosque.”
Our organization represents local faith communities from 10 different religious traditions, including Christianity and Islam. For the past 17 years, we have worked to encourage deeper understanding and respect among people of different religious beliefs.
We strongly agree with your assertion that building an Islamic center close to New York City’s ground zero “would be a landmark to our nation’s strength” and to religious freedom and pluralism, rather than an act of disrespect for those who died in the attacks of Sept. 11. It is a sad irony that the organization promoting the project, the Cordoba Initiative, is a Muslim group that promotes interfaith cooperation.
It is a further sad irony that, according to Evan F. Kohlmann, who tracks militant websites at the security consulting firm Global Partners, supporters of groups like al-Qaida have regarded this controversy “with glee,” as “proof that most Americans are enemies of Islam,” and as actually helping them to recruit more terrorists.
Thank you for reminding us that “al-Qaida’s radical agenda does not represent (true) Islam,” and that yielding to “fierce, sometimes hateful rhetoric would be a defeat for religious freedom.”
Inter-Religious Council of Linn