Cordoba House near Ground Zero: a message from ASMA

As Salaamu Alaykum.

You may have been following the recent media blitz surrounding the Cordoba House, a joint project of ASMA and Cordoba Initiative. A few months ago SoHo Properties Inc. acquired a 4-story building with a vision of creating a community center with recreational facilities, classrooms, performing arts theatre, and programming geared towards the local New York community.

Cordoba House was seen as a groundbreaking effort towards building an unique Muslim cultural center near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, New York City. It was to be a bricks-and-mortar space to not only promote a thriving and diverse Muslim community but also provide new opportunities for interfaith harmony between Muslims and non-Muslims.

On May 5, Daisy Khan and Imam Feisal presented the vision and concept to Community Board 1, a committee of local stakeholders. The 12-member board welcomed the project and unanimously approved it by passing a resolution in favor of it.

Next morning, the press incorrectly reported the cultural center as a “13 story mosque near ground zero”. Blogs and social media outlets have claimed that the project is a step toward the “Islamization of America” and a “slap in the face of 9-11 families”. Some groups have launched hate campaigns and plan to hold a protest rally on June 6. Rarely does ASMA receive hate calls but we have received our share of it in the past few days. In addition, the story has taken a life of its own on blogs, twitter and other social networking sites. Here are links to some of the media stories (both positive and negative):

On May 18, in response to the media frenzy, we called an emergency meeting with our interfaith partners who have thrown their full support behind us. They are writing letters and also asking other faith leaders to come forward in this moment of difficulty. Twenty institutional supporters have signed up so far.

On May 20, Scott Stringer, the Manhattan Borough President, held a press conference in front of the building to defend the center and to push back against the comments of Mark Williams, a Tea Party leader. So far, this is the most accurate report of this project:

Daisy Khan has asked that I make a special request to you to support ASMA, Cordoba Initiative and the project at this critical moment. These are the ways you can help:

1. Weigh in on this issue by writing opinion pieces, blogging, tweeting etc. A good example is Kamran Pasha’s eloquent editorial on Huffington Post:

2. Write a support letter on your organization’s letterhead for the project and send it to us.

3. Send a letter to Scott Stringer’s office thanking them for their support.

4. Send our sample letter to your local Muslim or interfaith leaders for their endorsement. Cordoba House has hit national and international news and by endorsing this project faith leaders will become a part of the rebuilding of lower Manhattan.

5. Think about individuals nationally who might be willing to lead a fundraising campaign for this project. There will be naming opportunities and other ways to get involved with the center.


Rushda Majeed
Director, MLT
American Society for Muslim Advancement
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 248
New York, NY 10115

212.870.2552 x 2

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