On 9/11 Anniversary, Park 51 Islamic Center Sparks Rallies, For and Against

Thousands rallied in Manhattan's City Hall Park, near the site of Ground Zero, on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks to denounce anti-Muslim bigotry, while blocks away an equal number demonstrated against the proposed Cordoba House Islamic community center at 51 Park Place in lower Manhattan.

At the Unity and Solidarity Rally, speakers denounced racism, urging protesters to fight growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Israel/Palestine conflict.  The multiracial crowd heard antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, former U.S. Rep. and Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. Attorney Ramsey Clark, the Raging Grannies and representatives of peace, religious, labor, and community organizations including the Albany Central Labor Federation, the Bail Out the People Movement, Riverside Church, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, the Islamic Society of North America, United for Peace and Justice, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Veterans for Peace. The anti-Islamophobia protest was organized by the International Action Center and backed by a broad coalition of leftist, Muslim, Arab and Palestine solidarity groups.  Demonstrators marched to Foley Square, chanting and holding signs against anti-Muslim bigotry.

At the anti-Cordoba House rally, the mostly white participants waved U.S. flags and chanted "No mosque here."  Speakers at the anti-community center rally included Pamela Geller, a leading voice on the Islamophobic right, and the notorious Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who has stated that he "hates Islam."

The slide show below features pictures from both actions.