New York: Amid opposition from various
quarters to the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, the New York
City Mayor on Wednesday strongly supported its construction close to
the site of the fallen Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre.
"If we say that a mosque and community centre should
not be built near the perimeter of the World Trade Center
site, we would compromise our commitment to fighting terror
with freedom," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at the annual
Ramadan celebrations at Gracie Mansion.
"We would feed the false impressions that some
Americans have about Muslims. We would send a signal around
the world that Muslim Americans may be equal in the eyes of
the law, but separate in the eyes of their countrymen," he
Polls suggest that the majority of Americans inside
and out of New York, both Republican and Democrats, are
against a mosque being built so close to the 9/11 site.
Prominent Republicans like Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani,
and Newt Gingrich have already spoken out against the mosque
as have Democrats like Senate majority leader Harry Reid.
Kuwaiti-born Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the developer of
the USD 100 million Muslim community centre, which will
include the mosque, insists that it is "a centre for all New
Yorkers" and "its purpose is to interweave America`s Muslim
population into the mainstream society."
His wife and co-developer of the mosque Daisy Khan
compared the opposition to the mosque as anti-Semitism.
"It`s not even Islamophobia. It`s beyond Islamophobia.
It`s hate of Muslims," she said on ABC`s This Week.
Underlining that Muslims, too, had died on 9/11, the
mayor pointed out one of the guests, Talat Hamdani, whose
paramedic-son, Salman, was killed in the terrorist attack.
Bloomberg also noted that if the mosque is not built,
it would be a valuable propaganda tool to terrorist recruiters
who tell Muslims that America is at war with Islam.
He also rejected recent suggestions, including by New
York Governor David Paterson, of finding another location for
the mosque and community centre.
"And there are people of every faith -- including,
perhaps, some in this room -- who are hoping that a compromise
will end the debate. But it won`t," Bloomberg said.
"The question will then become, how big should the
`no-mosque zone` around the World Trade Center be? There is
already a mosque four blocks away. Should it, too, be moved?"