Religious Freedom after 9/11
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In 2010, controversy erupted over a plan to build an Islamic Cultural Center on Park Place in Lower Manhattan, two blocks from the devastated World Trade Center site. “Park51,” as proposed by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and developer Sharif el-Gamal, sought to promote communication among New Yorkers of diverse faiths and backgrounds.
A small group mobilized against Park51, arguing that constructing an Islamic center near the site of the September 11, 2001, attacks was disrespectful; some claimed it would celebrate terrorists. Anti-Muslim sentiment fueled counter-demonstrations, where protestors invoked longstanding traditions of religious freedom.
Activists on both sides of the debate embraced new tools of 21st-century activism: websites, email blasts, social networks, posted videos, and smartphone snapshots. These new media extended the reach of the city’s activists to the nation and the world, making the dissemination of information and viewpoints instantaneous and the mobilization of opinion, support, and donations as easy as the click of a button.
After opening temporarily in 2011, a new building at the Park51 site, featuring condominiums alongside a museum, cultural center, and sanctuary, is under construction. The Park51 debate has quieted, but questions of cultural diversity and use of urban space remain. Nearly 400 years after Quakers, Jews, and others fought to worship in what was then New Amsterdam, questions of religious tolerance continue to mobilize New Yorkers today.In 2010, controversy erupted over a plan to build an Islamic Cultural Center on Park Place in Lower Manhattan, two blocks from the devastated World Trade Center site. “Park51,” as proposed by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and developer Sharif el-Gamal, sought to promote communication among New Yorkers of diverse faiths and backgrounds.
|Federal Hart-Celler Act opens America’s doors to new immigrants of all faiths and from all parts of the world||1965|
|Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee founded in Washington, DC||1980||
|1993||First World Trade Center bombing by militant Islamists kills six, injures over 1,000|
Beginning of war in Afghanistan
Iraq War begins amidst antiwar protests
Al Qaeda attacks destroy the World Trade Center, as well as target the Pentagon and another Washington site; 2,819 killed
Arab American Association of New York founded in Brooklyn
|2009||Plans announced to build Islamic Cultural Center at 51 Park Place|