On Tuesday, the New York Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) praised the center’s progress, saying that it represents the core of American values.

“The free exercise of religion is one of America’s most fundamental freedoms,” said the ACLU in a statement. “For hundreds of years, our pluralism and tolerance have sustained and strengthened our nation. On 9/11, religious extremists opposed to that very pluralism killed 3,000 Americans. Those fanatics would want nothing more than for our nation to turn its back on the very ideals that make this country so great.

“For those who have sought to ban the construction of the cultural center, we must remember that our precious ideals extend to all Americans, regardless of creed or color. We see the center as a monument to pluralism, symbolic of America’s commitment to religious freedom.”