An Appeal to Imam Rauf and Daisy Khan to Withdraw Ground Zero Mosque

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Dear Imam Rauf and Daisy Khan,

Another seventy two bodies were discovered on Friday not far from where you plan to build a thirteen-story Islamic center and mosque. Here we are, close to ten years after the largest jihadist attack ever to take place on American soil, and bodies, corpses, are still being recovered. Who knows how many body parts were found in the Burlington Coat Factory building when the landing gear crashed through all five floors? Thousands were never recovered. Their cemetery, their burial ground, is the area in and around Ground Zero.

Of course, as one of the leaders of the opposition to the painful and strangely thoughtless "Cordoba Initiative," my group SIOA will be pursuing legal avenues to stop or at least dramatically slow down the building of this mosque on the site that many consider to be a war memorial, while also staging mega-protests and sit-ins if and when construction begins, etc. But must it come to that?

You and I are New Yorkers. We are Americans, first. You, too, felt the devastating pain and anguish when the military arm of Islam (al qaeda) unleashed its attack on America on September 11th. The gaping hole at Ground Zero is a constant reminder of that terrible war.

Must we go legal? Must we stage more rallies with tens of thousands of Americans opposing the mosque? Can we not, as human beings, and in the interest of building bridges, mutual understanding and respect, implore you to reconsider your plans? I am sure your motivation to build bridges was a good one. But as you can see, it has had the opposite effect. The public outcry of millions of Americans make plain the wound that has been reopened and the terrible pain this is causing for families, for patriots, for Muslims of conscience. It is unbearable. This surely was not your intent.

Interfaith dialogue is a two-way street. I believe we should all be sensitive to each other. I don't see Muslims separately or apart, I see Americans. Period. Americans who love this country, and don't share the idea of "pure Islam" or "original" Islam that is found in Islamic countries. In many of the emails I receive, many Muslims understand the pain "Cordoba" inflicts -- not just the idea but the name itself (evoking Islamic conquest over the West).

I call upon your conscience, your goodness, your love of America, to move you to reconsider. More rallies will be staged -- tens of thousands will show. People might get hurt in a sit-in trying to stop the ground breaking of a mosque looking down on Ground Zero. Why? In the interest of building bridges?

Can we talk about this? Can we discuss this? Can the building have a church and a synagogue as well as a mosque? Or perhaps no mosque at all -- much the way community centers like the 92nd Street Y or the YWCA, to which you have compared your plan, don't have churches or synagogues.

As a man of the clergy, you must understand the pain this is causing for the victims who mourn their dead, for Americans who mourn their country's losses ........ You can not have wanted to create such sorrow.

What can we do to get you to withdraw this plan? Should we try to raise the money to release you from this tragic mistake? How can we help you? We want to work with you and do the right thing, build bridges and show each other mutual understanding and mutual respect. As a religious man, you would never mean to cause such overwhelming sadness and grief.

Imam Rauf, please withdraw this plan and show the world real understanding and kindness and empathy.