Washington: The reigning Miss USA has come out against the Ground Zero mosque, saying "it shouldn`t be so close" to the site of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in New York.
The 24-year-old Rima Fakih is the first Muslim winner of the Miss USA contest and is preparing for the Miss Universe Pageant, scheduled for Monday in Las Vegas.
"I totally agree with President Obama with the statement on Constitutional rights of freedom of religion," Fakih told `Inside Edition` on Friday as cited by the New York Post.
"I also agree that it shouldn`t be so close to the World Trade Centre. We should be more concerned with the tragedy than religion."
Meanwhile, the defiant wife of the cleric behind the planned mosque near Ground Zero has vowed to go ahead with the project, calling it a "history-making moment" in the fight against "Islamophobia".
Daisy Khan, who founded the project along with her husband, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, said the increasing opposition - which she blamed on Republicans - has only caused organisers to become more committed.
`Debate on mosque to sow seeds of discord`
Distressed at the ongoing debate on the construction of the Ground Zero Mosque in lower Manhattan, the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) has warned both the opponents and proponents of the religious structures that their clashes would sow more seeds of discord.
"Given the direction that it seems to be moving toward, the ongoing debate is not going to be helpful either for the proponents or opponents of the idea. The only thing that it is set out to accomplish is sowing more seeds of discord among them," OIC Secretary-General Prof Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said in a statement issued here.
"Not only it is yet another absolutely unnecessary source of conflict that depletes the great potential of cooperation to counter our common problems such as religious extremism, racism, and xenophobia; but also very unfortunately it carries a potential to harm the great progress made in the field of interfaith and intercultural dialogue," he said.
Extremely important at this point and from now on is to distinguish between those who oppose the idea of an Islamic Centre at the Ground Zero due to their understandable anguish, and those who just exploit that anguish to spread Islamophobia, he said.
"It is really distressing to see that some extremist groups have already made such wild calls to burn Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11. What is more distressing is the rumours that such extremist groups in the United States and Europe will join forces on September 11, 2010 for a joint protest/provocation at the Ground Zero to spread fear about Islam and Muslims," Ihsanoglu said.
Such ill efforts have already started to bear their bitter fruit in the sense of protests against the Muslim worship places across the United States, he said.
The OIC secretary general thanked the American authorities, in particular US President Barack Obama, for their unrelenting support to the Muslim Americans’ rights, and for their clear acceptance of Muslim Americans as no different than other Americans.
"Such a bold standing is only in line with the American values, and is a source of inspiration for many around the world in terms of respect for diversity and minority rights," he said.
(With Agencies’ inputs)