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5. Sohaib Sultan, Muslim life coordinator at Princeton University and author of The Koran for Dummies
Sultan is one of the most prominent up-and-coming Muslim theological voices in the U.S.
"People who oppose this center should not miss the idea that the center would be a powerful symbol of what America stands for, which is religious liberty and freedom. It would be a powerful symbol of a very different type of Islam, an Islam that would be Osama bin Laden's worst nightmare, an Islam that is pluralistic, that is tolerant, that is interfaith-oriented and that is seeking peace."
"People who are opposing the mosque have missed the point in understanding that there is a major difference between having some sort of center that represents in any way al-Qaeda-type of ideology vs. a center run by a Muslim-faith organization that [is] as tolerant and as interfaith-oriented as one could hope."
"This is probably the greatest test of the separation between state and religious institution that we have experienced in a long time. I think the government getting involved in moving the mosque in any capacity, in discouraging it or preventing it, would be a serious blow to American freedoms and also American constitutional principles. I think Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg's defense of religious liberties must be one of the greatest civic discourses that has been produced in our lifetime."
"It's not open for politicking. It's not open for a vote. This idea that the vast majority of Americans are against the project well, I think the vast majority of Americans are seriously misinformed about Islam, are really misinformed about this project, and if we were to base our rights on majority vote, then civil rights in this country would never have gone forward. There are certain things that go beyond people's opinions, there are certain things that are enshrined as rights in [the U.S.] Constitution, and we have to stand up for those rights even when it is popularly opposed."
"[The World Trade Center site] is hallowed ground for [Muslims] as well. It would be a symbol, an antithesis to the horrible ideology that brought down the World Trade Center on 9/11. For Muslims to be able to condemn 9/11 which we have been doing for years, since the very beginning to be able to erect something in that area not on that spot; in that area that is a powerful antithesis to al-Qaeda ideology, [and it] would give Muslims a sense of contribution to America."
"For years, the same people opposing the mosque have been saying, Where are the moderate Muslims? How come the moderate Muslims don't stand up? They even doubted there was such a thing as moderate Muslims. But now that moderate Muslims have come up with this project that would be the antithesis to extremism, those [moderate Muslims] are being criticized and maligned and their good name is now being distorted. It makes me question the intention [of those people] who have been crying all these years asking where the moderate voice of Islam is."