Press Release: Coalition Formed to Bolster Tolerance and Healing as 10th Anniversary of 9/11 Approaches

“Prepare New York” seeks to embrace, not divide

New York City –– Six of New York’s most prominent interfaith organizations announced today the formation of a coalition to equip New Yorkers to promote religious pluralism and counter intolerance of religious differences in anticipation of the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

The coalition, Prepare New York, was formed in part as a response to the national and international headlines surrounding last summer’s proposed Muslim Community Center in lower Manhattan. The purpose of the coalition is to shift the emphasis from one of fear and mistrust to one that celebrates New York’s extraordinary diversity of religious freedom and expression.

“We hope this coalition will use the occasion of the 10th anniversary of this tragedy to build a foundation for long-term healing among all residents of our city,” said the Rev. Robert Chase, Executive Director of Intersections International, one of the coalition partners.

Prepare New York seeks to strengthen the social fabric of the city and serve as a model for other settings across the country by carrying out a comprehensive, multi-pronged effort to inspire New Yorkers to engage in the difficult but necessary dialogue about religious diversity. This process will hopefully give voice to the millions of people who are ready to move beyond hate and toward healing.

The effort will feature online and offline components and viral marketing for diverse religious voices. The goal is to change the narrative that continues to characterize American Muslims as suspicious and unpatriotic.

Online curricula and other resources are being developed that build mutual respect and understanding across lines of faith and culture, promote tolerance, and celebrate the rich diversity that is central to the fabric of life in New York.

The coalition, which has secured pledges for funding from The New York Community Trust, Odyssey Networks, and The Collegiate Church of New York, is preparing to hold 500 facilitated “coffee hour conversations” in congregations, cultural centers, and work places around the city to dispel misconceptions and stereotypes of Muslim Americans and other minority faith communities.

In addition, Prepare New York will work with faith leaders, public officials, 9/11 family groups, and community groups to hold public gatherings leading up to September 11, as well as beyond the actual anniversary, enabling residents to not only memorialize the loss and pain of 9/11, but inspire them to experience a more communal and comprehensive healing.

“I am exceptionally proud to be a New Yorker,” said Hussein Rashid, Ph.D., a principal instructor at Quest, another of the coalition partners. “After the events of 9/11, we came together as a city. Now, 10 years later, we need to actively work to heal our city, to have some of the conversations we never had, and to lead our country by example. This coalition of faith-based organizers and institutions is our contribution back to New York City.”

The Prepare New York coalition includes Auburn Seminary and its Center for Multifaith Education, Interfaith Center of New York, Intersections International, Odyssey Networks, Quest, and the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and 9/11 Communities for Common Ground are serving as advisers to the coalition.

For more information, visit Prepare New York’s website, www.prepareny.com.