Russell Simmons speaks out in support of 'Ground Zero mosque'
Russell Simmons has taken a public stand in support of Park51, the Muslim community center whose planned construction in lower Manhattan has become a national controversy. The Associated Press reports that the hip-hop mogul, who lives across the street from the site of the World Trade Center, adorned several of his top-floor apartment windows with messages of tolerance regarding the so-called “Ground Zero mosque.”
Six of Simmons’ window displays spell out the word “COEXIST” using religious symbols drawn from traditions including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism. Another cites Mark 12:31, the New Testament passage instructing Christians to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Two more window displays read “USA = FREE” and “IT’S THE LAW.”
“The fact that it is a public discussion, that there’s so many against it is what I think is disappointing to me, that so many people don’t know that we founded our country on the First Amendment,” Simmons told the AP. “It’s for Jews, it’s for Christians, it’s for African-Americans and other non-Muslims to stand up and protect the rights of the Muslims involved in this debate…. It’s an American principle, it should offend every American.”
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