New York: A leading Jewish organisation
in the US has opposed the much-debated construction of a
mosque near the Ground Zero site where the twin towers of the
World Trade Center collapsed on 9/11, saying it would cause
unnecessary pain to some victims.
The Anti-Defamation League joined the debate against
the building of a mosque and Islamic Centre and said this is
was not a question of rights of Muslims but a question of what
The proponents of the Islamic Centre have said it
would be a centre to propagate a message of peace and
inclusiveness and promote the moderate faith.
But the opponents say the establishment of an Islamic
Centre would hurt the sentiments of the victims and relatives
of those who were killed in the September 11 attack.
Jewish organisation, the Anti-Defamation League, said
in a statement that the bigotry expressed by some people
against the idea is unfair, and wrong.
"The proponents of the Islamic Centre may have every
right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site
to send a positive message about Islam... But ultimately this
is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right,"
"In our judgement, building an Islamic Centre in the
shadow of the World Trade Centre will cause some victims more
pain unnecessarily and that is not right," it added.
The debate about a building a mosque on the Ground
Zero site has been raging in the US for several months.
In May, a New York community board approved the
building of a 13-story mosque and Islamic cultural centre
close to the site but the project still faces resistance from
The plan is being pushed by a Kuwaiti-born imam,
Feisal Abdul Rauf, and will cost a USD 100 million.
"My colleagues and I are the anti-terrorists. We are
the people who want to embolden the vast majority of Muslims
who hate terrorism to stand up to the radical rhetoric.
"Our purpose is to interweave America`s Muslim
population into the mainstream society," Imam Rauf wrote in
the New York Daily News in May.
He said the centre will be open to all regardless of
religion and will be a centre for all New Yorkers.
"What grieves me most is the false reporting that
leads some families of 9/11 victims to think this project
somehow is designed by Muslims to gloat over the attack".
Parties that oppose the building a mosque, which will
be called Cordoba House, insist this project is inappropriate
since the terrorist attacks were carried out by extremist
The groups that support the plan assert that building
a mosque will be a symbol of tolerance in New York City, which
is home to people from all around the world practicing
They also say that the Islamic centre will be a venue
to promote moderate Islam and practice interfaith dialogue.
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, for instance,
came out in a powerful defense for the Cordoba House to be
built near Ground Zero.
"I think it`s fair to say if somebody was going to
try, on that piece of property, to build a church or a
synagogue, nobody would be yelling and screaming," Bloomberg
said in May.
"And the fact of the matter is that Muslims have a
right to do it, too".
The Islamic center will have a swimming pool,
basketball court, meeting rooms, a 500-seat auditorium,
banquet facilities, theatrical programming, art exhibitions
and cooking classes, according to Rauf.
But the Jewish group noted that "the controversy which
has emerged regarding the building of an Islamic Center at
this location is counterproductive to the healing process".
"Under these unique circumstances, we believe the City
of New York would be better served if an alternative location
could be found," it added.