New York City Leaders of prominent U.S. Muslim groups called Monday for a national week of interfaith dialogue to combat religious intolerance and said they support the right to build a controversial Islamic center near ground zero.
“We stand for the constitutional right of Muslims, and Americans of all faiths, to build houses of worship anywhere in our nation as allowed by local laws and regulations,” the Muslim leaders said in a statement delivered at the site of the proposed Islamic center and mosque, to be called Park51.
They called for a “week of dialogue” on the weekend of Oct. 22-24, during which Muslims would conduct open houses at their places of worship to help ease tensions.
The Muslim leaders spoke after a daylong summit meeting Sunday at a hotel near Kennedy Airport.
Neither the developer of the Islamic center nor its imam attended the news conference, though developer Sharif El-Gamal attended the summit. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf Rauf welcomed the Muslim leaders’ support in a statement.