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Park51 — Responding to attacks

August 25, 2010, 5:01 pm | Posted by Beth Dahlman

The debate and controversy surrounding the Park51 Islamic Center in Lower Manhattan has been rife with misinformation and inflammatory accusations, and now the Cordoba Initiative (an organization affiliated with the project’s sponsors) has put up a useful FAQ web page debunking some of the most destructive myths and common misunderstandings about the proposed center. Many of the FAQ answers rebut specific attacks made by opportunists looking to stir up fear and bigotry for political gain. A few answers:

Regarding the initiative’s name:

Why Cordoba?

The name Cordoba was chosen carefully to reflect a period of time during which Islam played a monumental role in the enrichment of human civilization and knowledge. A thousand years ago Muslims, Jews, and Christians coexisted and created a prosperous center of intellectual, spiritual, cultural and commercial life in Cordoba, Spain. [Hear that, Newt Gingrich?]

Regarding the project’s funding:

Who is funding the Community Center?

No funds for this project have been raised to date. Before fundraising can begin, a new nonprofit organization will be formed. A project of this scale will require very diverse fundraising sources, including individuals from all faiths and beliefs, including Christians and Jews, who are committed to peace and understanding. We expect that our sources of funding will include individuals of different religions, charitable organizations, public funds, institutional and corporate sponsors.

You will need a lot of contributors. Who will review your donor list?

We will invite the New York Charities Bureau and the US Treasury Department to review our donor list to ensure that all funding sources are vetted to their satisfaction and approved. In addition, the new non-profit’s Trustees and Advisory Board will include a multi-faith group of distinguished individuals who will ensure that the community center stays true to its objectives of peace, tolerance and understanding between all. [Did you hear that, Fox News?]The page also addresses numerous accusations made about Imam Feisal.

Regarding accusations that the center will become a haven for extremists in the future:

Will the extremists take over the Community Center once it’s built?

Extremism on both sides is the danger – it’s what we’re working against. A community center that celebrates diversity and multi-faith collaboration is antithetical to the extremists’ worldview. This center will be a blow to all extremists. In addition, the new organization’s multi-faith Trustees and Board of Advisors will ensure that our good intentions are not hijacked by extremist elements who reject our vision of peace, tolerance and understanding.

See the full list here.

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