Anywhere from 300 to 5,000 protesters (depending on whose estimate you believe) gathered yesterday near the location of the proposed mosque that would be built a couple of blocks from the World Trade Center site. The rally was organized by Stop the Islamization of America, a group led by Pamela Geller, an outspoken opponent of the mosque who also heads up the "Leave Islam" ad campaign currently seen on city buses. The blogger who runs Jihadi Watch had this to say:
The theme among all the speakers was common: the mosque is an insult to the Americans who were murdered there. It is a manifestation of a radically intolerant belief system that is incompatible with the freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. And even with all the political elites against us, and the mainstream media indifferent or compromised (5,000 to 10,000 people at the rally, and no mainstream media coverage!), we will prevail.
All we have on our side is the truth...And the truth is powerful. The forecast had called for rain, but it didn't start raining in New York until after the rally had broken up. Many took it as a sign that we represented the cause of right and justice.
Michael Simons, 47, a retired Port Authority detective who for a time was buried in the rubble of Tower Two, told Newsday (paywall), "It saddens me that they want to build a mega mosque here. We lost people from 70 countries here. Where is the respect for the dead? I am here to give the dead a voice." And Pamela Geller asked the crowd, "Who is paying for this mosque? Did it come from the same blood-tainted hands that supported 9/11?" Another protester, Felicia Chillak from the Conservative Society for Action, told Epoch Times, "I believe building a mosque near ground zero is like building a crematorium near Auschwitz."
Mayor Bloomberg, the local community board, and Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer all back the mosque, which would be called Cordoba House. According to its website, the "proposed project is about promoting integration, tolerance of difference and community cohesion through arts and culture. Cordoba House will provide a place where individuals, regardless of their backgrounds, will find a center of learning, art and culture; and most importantly, a center guided by Islamic values in their truest form - compassion, generosity, and respect for all." The facility would also include a memorial dedicated to lives lost on 9/11.