Opposition to the 'Ground Zero' mosque in downtown Manhattan is part of the troubling trend of mounting anti-Muslim sentiment across America, head of a major Muslim advocacy group in the United States said.
"In reality, there is a growing pattern of opposing mosques not near or in the proximity of Ground Zero, but opposing mosques all over America. How far is too close? If two blocks, near Burlington factory is too close, then why in Brooklyn mosque-building is being opposed in Sheepshead Bay. Is that far enough? How far do we go?" Imam Mahdi Bray, executive director of Muslim America Society's Mass Freedom, told mediaperons at the National Press Club in Washington.
Terming it an 'encroachment upon religious liberties and the freedom of religion,' Bray said 'not only the mosques being constructed in New York near Ground Zero and Brooklyn were challenged but also in California, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Alabama, Florida.'
Bary, referring to a research done by Dr Akbar Ahmed from the American University, said the building of mosques and the resistance from the building of mosques has increased throughout the US.
"Also, the destruction and vandalising of mosques, including a pipe bomb placed in a mosque in Florida where, had the culprit placed it in the right place, mayhem and certainly possibly even fatalities would have occurred," he said.
Bray also said that the Muslim American Society was determined to defend the religious rights and freedoms, and any encroachment against the cherished principles of religious freedom for all people, not only Muslims.
"We do believe that the First Amendment of United States Constitution is sacrosanct," he said at the press conference which was also addressed by leaders from the Jewish and Catholic faiths.
Ibrahim Ramey, director of Human and Civil Rights, Muslim American Society, argued that a mosque at Ground Zero was essential as part of the healing process.
"There happens to be a huge amount of commercial development right now in that part of Lower Manhattan. It is not at the site of the terrorist attacks. No one has protested any other building or any other commercial activity going on there. But there are people who now begin to say that this ground is sacred because Muslims who had nothing whatsoever to do with the 9/11 tragedy want to have a community centre and a worship centre," he said.