Wife of Ground Zero mosque imam in Philly

America’s soul-searching about civility on the eve of a national holiday honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. goes beyond the political and rhetorical aftermath of Tucson.

At the Neighborhood Interfaith Movement’s annual interfaith celebration Sunday, the American Society for Muslim Advancement’s Daisy Khan will speak about the challenges she and her husband, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, faced in trying to bring an Islamic Community Center to Lower Manhattan. Khan sees it as an opportunity to take a controversy “beyond Islamophobia, it’s hate of Muslims,” and start a nationwide grassroots effort to help people see beyond divisiveness.

“What Muslims are experiencing now are the same trials others have gone through in other times,” she said Thursday. “We’re witnessing history in the making. Strong voices must be heard from moderates, so we don’t get drowned out by extremists.”

Rabbi George Stern of NIM — a 58-faith advocacy group — selected Khan to speak at the 28th annual MLK event months ago, but “the civility issue is definitely on our minds” as other faiths “are concerned about the way the Muslim community is being viewed and, in some cases, treated.”

“It’s not easy to change people. It’s not enough to say that if Republicans and Democrats stopped yelling at each other, everything will be fine,” Stern said.

The program “calling on people of faith to think about what would King be doing” is 3 p.m. Sunday at Arch Street Presbyterian Church, 1724 Arch St.

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