Leaders Support Mosque

October 9, 2006


Source: Newsday


Local religious leaders spoke out in support of the Islamic Center of Long Island at an interfaith celebration at the Westbury mosque, which Rep. Peter King has alleged is run by extremists.

"We will not be fooled by fearmongering and appeals to bigotry," the Rev. Mark Lukens, pastor of Bethany Congregational Church in East Rockaway, said at a news conference yesterday. "We stand with you proudly, shoulder to shoulder."

Click here to find out more! Last month King (R-Seaford) wrote in thousands of letters to constituents that the mosque's leaders "have publicly stated that the CIA or the 'Zionists' may have been responsible for the 9/11 attacks." He also said that 85 percent of American mosques had "extremist leadership."

Speaking yesterday at a joint celebration of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, Christian and Jewish leaders called King's statements "deplorable," "false" and "outrageous."

Reached by phone, King said he was "terribly disappointed" by the clerics' comments. "As religious leaders, they all should realize that there's more to interfaith dialogue than just holding hands and feeling good about yourself."

King said his opinions of the Islamic Center were based on statements by former interfaith director Ghazi Khankan, who was quoted in news articles soon after Sept. 11 challenging the idea that Muslims were behind the attacks. Khankan left the mosque two years ago.