A coalition of national and local Muslim leaders gave their support for a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero yesterday, likening the builders of Park51 to civil rights hero Rosa Parks.
But some New Yorkers were disturbed by the comparison.
“They said to Rosa Parks, ‘we want you to move, you offend us by being here,” Mahdi Bray, director of the political arm of the American Muslim Society, MAS-Freedom, said yesterday. “But Rosa Parks made a decision that in America there is room for everyone at the front of the bus.”
“The Jim Crow laws were a legal prohibition; Rosa Parks was not allowed to sit where she sat,” said Rev. Herbert Daughtry, an influential pastor in Brooklyn. Daughtry, 80, was jailed for fighting segregation laws. “But they have every legal right to build there.”
“I always get a little disturbed when people attempt to harness their cause to the civil rights movement,” he added.
City Councilman Charles Barron, who attends Daughtry’s House of the Lord Church, disagreed.
“It’s a very good analogy. The principle is, we will not be moved,” said Barron. “They’re saying, ‘we’re going to build here and stay here.’” We will not allow terrorists to divide us.”