The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Robyn Shepherd, ACLU National, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666;
Jennifer Carnig, NYCLU, (212) 607-3363;

ACLU And NYCLU Release Ad Promoting Religious Freedom As Mosque Controversy Continues


response to the continued controversy over the proposed Islamic
community center in New York City, the American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) and the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) will begin
displaying an ad promoting religious freedom on the back of buses throughout the New York City transit system beginning September 20.

"We hope these ads will remind
people, as they are going about their daily lives, that freedom of
religion is a core American value that needs to be fiercely defended,
especially in times of controversy," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive
Director of the ACLU. "Even in the wake of the horrendous events of
9/11, we must remember that discrimination only chips away at the very
values we are striving to defend."

The ad asks, "Would there even be a
controversy if this weren't a mosque?" and features three images of the
proposed Park51 community center with a Latin cross, a Star of David,
and an Islamic crescent and star, respectively. The ad boldly declares,
"In America, religious freedom knows no boundaries."

Last month, the ACLU and NYCLU joined
more than 100 groups in forming New York Neighbors for American Values,
a coalition devoted to the core American values of religious freedom,
diversity and equality that has supported the right of the community
center to be built in its proposed location. The coalition will be
holding a vigil tonight near Park51.

"New York is one of the world's
greatest cities precisely because of the richness, vibrancy and
diversity of those who live here," said Donna Lieberman, Executive
Director of the NYCLU. "We are proud of local officials like Mayor
Bloomberg who have stood up for religious freedom and stared down
misguided intolerance."

In the months since controversy
erupted over the proposed Park51 center, incidents of anti-Muslim and
anti-mosque bias have spread across the country. A zoning board in
Mayfield, Kentucky denied a permit to organizers of a proposed mosque
after they were denied entry into a public hearing. An arsonist struck a
construction site for a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. And
teenagers fired a gun outside an upstate New York mosque and sideswiped a
worshipper with their car.

The ad can be seen at: and

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666