Ground Zero in Manhattan. (May 5, 2011)

Ground Zero in Manhattan. (May 5, 2011) Credit: AP

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, 5,000 walkers from across the city, Long Island and New Jersey are expected to walk to Ground Zero in a symbolic gesture to counter religious intolerance.

Dubbed the "mega walk," it is being organized by six interfaith church groups and various community and educational organizations from across the metropolitan area.

The walk's mission is "to reverse the path that fleeing New Yorkers were forced to take a decade ago," said the Rev. Katharine Henderson, president of the Auburn Theological Seminary, who announced the interfaith walk yesterday morning in Manhattan.

The coalition of six interfaith groups, which calls the walking initiative "Prepare New York," is being organized to counter potential anti-Muslim sentiment, she said.

"Last fall we saw a crisis of prejudice and hatred against Muslim-Americans," Henderson said, referring to the announced plans to build a mosque and community center near Ground Zero last year.

The plan triggered dozens of protests against the mosque, claiming it was inappropriate to open a Muslim community center and mosque near Ground Zero.

The walk will help "combat religious intolerance and help continue our work of bridge building," Henderson said.

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