'Ground Zero mosque' debate hits the streets of New York
The debate over the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” hit the streets of New York Sunday. The controversy has led to increasing talk of moving the site of the proposed center.
The debate over the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” hit the streets of New York Sunday.Skip to next paragraph
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The weather fit the mood – gray skies and rain – and there were a few scuffles and shouted exchanges. But police officers and barricades kept several hundred demonstrators on each side separated.
The proposed site is several blocks away from the World Trade Center, attacked in 2001 by Islamic terrorists, in a neighborhood that includes bars, strip clubs, and an off-track betting facility. Still, it is “hallowed ground” to many who oppose the Islamic Center – including politicians using it to batter President Obama.
This has led to increasing talk of moving the site of the proposed center, which is not a “mosque” as most people might envision it with a dome, minarets, and amplified calls to prayer but more like a YMCA or Jewish Community Center – architecturally plain with an auditorium, swimming pool, and meeting rooms as well as a prayer space (but no loud speakers).
Roman Catholic Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, has offered to mediate the issue. A model, he suggests, is when Pope John Paul II ordered nuns to move from a convent at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp after protests from Jewish leaders.
“He’s the one who said, ‘Let’s keep the idea, and maybe move the address,’ ” Archbishop Dolan told the New York Times. “It worked there; might work here.”
On ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, Daisy Khan, wife of the proposed Islamic Center’s leader Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, did not rule out the possibility of selecting a less controversial site away from 9/11’s ground zero.
“We're meeting several stakeholders right now, because we understand the pain and the anguish that has been displayed throughout the country,” said Ms. Khan. “And we indeed want to build bridges. We don't want to create conflict. This is not where we were coming from. So, this is an opportunity for us to really turn this around and make this into something very, very positive. So we will meet and we will do what is right for everyone.”