(Mosque article updated with additional information and commentary.)
NEW YORK (
) -- A summit of local and national Muslim leaders met to discuss the controversially proposed building of a mosque and Islamic community center near Ground Zero.
"We stand for the constitutional rights of Muslims, and Americans of all faiths, to build houses of worship anywhere in our nation as allowed by local laws and regulations," Imam Al-Amin Latif, president of the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York, told reporters Monday outside the mosque site on Park Place.
The group, which included the Islamic Society of North America, the Islamic Circle of North America, the Muslim Alliance of North America and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called for tolerance and condemned what they called "ethnic bigotry."
The last time the group of Muslim leaders convened for a special gathering of this kind was two decades ago with the purpose of formulating a response to the Gulf War.
"Ground Zero belongs to all Americans," said Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who pointed out that there were Muslim victims on 9/11 and Muslim first responders.
The group expressed concern over the wave of anti-Muslim sentiment that has grown in recent weeks, and called for a "National Week of Dialogue," to take place around the weekend of Oct. 22 through Oct. 24, when Muslims will hold open houses at their places of worship to promote understanding.
Last week, an eccentric chess-loving Russian named Kirsan Ilyumzhinov became the latest player to enter the ongoing drama surrounding the potential mosque building.
Ilyumzhinov, the head of the World Chess Federation, said Thursday he bid $10 million for the site where the mosque is meant to be built in lower Manhattan.
lyumzhinov said he sent a letter on FIDE's behalf to NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg "with an offer to buy this land for $10 million," according to a report from the