NY City board approves mosque near Ground Zero

A proposal to erect a mosque and an Islamic Centre close to Ground Zero where World Trade Center`s twin towers came down on 9/11 got a resounding approval by a New York community board.

Last Updated: May 26, 2010, 23:39 PM IST

New York: A proposal to erect a mosque
and an Islamic Centre close to Ground Zero where World Trade
Center`s twin towers came down on 9/11 got a resounding
approval by a New York community board despite opposition by a
section of people who feel the plan hurts sentiments.

The plan was pushed by a Kuwaiti-born Imam Feisal
Abdul Rauf and will cost USD 100 million.

After weeks of speculation, the board voted 29-1 in
favour of building of the mosque, while 10 members abstained.

"It`s a seed of peace," board member Rob Townley said.

People opposed to the plan say building a mosque so
close to the site of the terror attack, carried out by Islamic
fundamentalists, would hurt sentiments but the proponents say
it would help combat negative stereotypes about Islam.

"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," Imam
Rauf wrote in the New York Daily News.

"Our purpose is to interweave America`s Muslim
population into the mainstream society," he said.

The centre will be open to everybody regardless of
religion and will be a centre for all New Yorkers, Rauf says.

"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, near the Ground Zero site is
inappropriate since the terrorist attacks was carried out by
extremist Muslims.

Widely recognised as a right-wing conservative
channel, FOX came out strongly against the plan.

It pointed out that in his book published in 2004,
"What Is Right With Islam," Imam Rauf wrote "The American
political structure is Sharia compliant".

"What he`s saying is that America has put no
roadblocks in place of the implementation of Sharia. And this
is why we`re having a rally on June 6 against this mosque,"
Robert Spencer, director of Jihadwatch.org said on FOX.

C Lee Hanson, whose son, Peter, died in the terrorist
attack said he was not intolerant of Islam but believed that
building of the mosque so close to Ground Zero was
insensitive.

"When I look over there and I see a mosque, it`s
going to hurt," Hanson said, as quoted by New York Times.

"Build it someplace else," he said.

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
different religions.

They also say that the mosque will be a venue to
promote moderate Islam and practice interfaith dialogue.

"We believe that this is significant step in the
Muslim community to counteract the hate and fanaticism in the
minority of the community," Townley said.

The mosque did not need the permission from the board,
but the approval is symbolic of the majority of New Yorkers
attitude towards the project.

The Islamic centre 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.

"The centre will have a public memorial to the victims
of 9/11 as well as a meditation room where all will be welcome
for quiet reflection," he wrote.

"The centre will support soul and body".

PTI