Anti-Defamation League apologises for opposing mosque near Ground Zero after 9/11

Apology prompted by fears of an Islamophobic ‘hate surge’ against Afghan refugees

Helen Elfer
Sunday 05 September 2021 19:16
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<p>Director of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt</p>

Director of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt

The CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League has apologised to the Muslim community for the organisation’s stance on a proposed mosque after 9/11.

Johnathan Greenblatt said the ADL were “wrong” for opposing plans for a mosque, community centre and cultural space to be developed near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan in 2010.

At the time, Daisy Khan, who along with her husband Feisal Abdel Rauf had put forward the proposition for the Park51 Islamic Community Center & Mosque, said its goal was to "repair the breach and be at the front and center to start the healing.”

In a climate still rife with Islamophobia (the FBI tracked a massive spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes after September 11) the plans triggered immediate controversy, with baseless rumours flying around that Cordoba House, as the project was originally known, was being organised by “terrorist sympathisers.” In the face of overwhelming opposition, the plans did not come to fruition.

The ADL did not outright attempt to block the project, but advocated for a location change, an action Mr Greenblatt says the group now regrets.

In an opinion piece for CNN he wrote: “Through deep reflection and conversation with many friends within the Muslim community, the real lesson is a simple one: we were wrong, plain and simple.”

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

Mr Greenblatt added that the ADL’s apology had been prompted by “signs of another surge in anti-Muslim hate” as Afghan refugees begin to arrive in the United States.

“Some so-called "experts" began spreading alarmist and Islamophobic disinformation in shameless attempts to block these brutalized civilians from coming to the United States,” he said.

He concluded: “We are better than this. We actively can choose not only to reject hate, but to embrace those in need. ADL’s stance on Cordoba House was an error that pales alongside the abrupt abandonment of our Afghan allies, but all of us should draw upon our better angels and welcome those poor and huddled masses who today seek our support.”

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