Southern Calif. interfaith coalition supports ground zero Muslim center

Rabbi Jonathon Klein spoke at an interfaith gathering at the Islamic Center of Southern California August 20, 2010 supporting building a mosque a few blocks from New York City's ground zero.
Rabbi Jonathon Klein spoke at an interfaith gathering at the Islamic Center of Southern California August 20, 2010 supporting building a mosque a few blocks from New York City's ground zero. Shirley Jahad/KPCC

The rhetoric against an Islamic Center near New York City's ground zero has been heating up some cable channels and AM talk radio stations. An interfaith group gathered today in Los Angeles to try to calm things down and redirect the conversation.

Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders gathered outside the Islamic Center of Southern California. They issued a statement supporting the right to build the mosque a few blocks away from the 9/11 attack. Members of the group say the verbal attack on the mosque amounts to fear mongering and political pandering in an election season.

The letter is signed by 71 Southern California religious leaders, including representatives from more than a dozen faiths.

Maher Hathout of the Muslim Public Affairs Council says anti-Islamic rhetoric is anti-American.

"This is a wave of anti-American sentiment because an America without the bill of rights, without religious freedom, is not the America the founding fathers dreamed of," Hathout said.

Rabbi Jonathon Klein is with Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. He says you can’t judge an entire religion by a violent extremist fringe group.

"Every religious tradition has its fanatical elements but that is not to say the core of the religious tradition is fanatical.. we look at the core values and we see a spectrum of religions that are committed to justice, to love, to respect and to the golden rule, that you should do unto others as you would have others do unto you," Klein said.

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