Islamic centre near `Ground Zero` in legal trouble

The centre, which includes a mosque, faced stiff opposition from politicians and families of the 9/11 victims.

New York: A proposed Islamic centre near the
site of the twin towers that were destroyed during the 9/11
terror attacks here has run into legal trouble, with a utility
firm saying the centre`s developer owes it USD 1.7 million in
back rent.

Lower Manhattan`s controversial Park51 Islamic centre
has in turn filed a law suit against Consolidated Edison (Con
Edison), saying it owes the company only USD 881,000 and calls
the utility`s demand "grossly inflated."

The centre has filed the suit against the company over a
default notice it was issued in September.

A New York state judge has stayed any action until after
a hearing on November 17.

"Whether it is bowing to political pressure or seeking to
retain the valuable premises for itself, Con Ed appears intent
upon proceeding with the wrongful termination," one of the
development group`s leaders Sharif El-Gamal said in the

The centre, Park51 owns part of the property on Park
Place but rents a part from Consolidated Edison.

Con Edison has threatened to terminate the lease, which
would imperil El-Gamal`s right to buy the property and derail
the plans to set up the Islamic centre.

El-Gamal has obtained a court order preventing Con Ed
from ending his lease.

The centre, which includes a mosque, faced stiff
opposition last year from politicians, activists and families
of the 9/11 victims, who felt that an Islamic centre should
not be built a couple of blocks away from the site of the
World Trade Centre that were razed to the ground by planes
hijacked by Al-Qaeda terrorists.

The interfaith centre`s leaders said the project will be
a 16-story community centre with recreational, educational and
cultural programming rooted in a spirit of cooperation and


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