NYC community board head wants interfaith centre
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Last Updated: Tuesday, August 31, 2010, 10:55
New York: The chairwoman of the community board that voted for an Islamic centre and mosque near ground zero said she believes adding an interfaith dimension would help unite people, saying a nondenominational chapel built at the Pentagon as part of a Sept 11 memorial did just that.

Julie Menin of Manhattan Community Board 1 reiterated today that she supports the project going up in the proposed location two blocks from the World Trade Center site, and that it contain a mosque as developers plan.

But she suggested another section of the community centre be turned into an interfaith, nondenominational area for people of all religious backgrounds.

"What it could do is it could really get to the heart of the matter of making this project one that brings people together," she said.

Community Board 1 had voted overwhelmingly in May to support the Islamic centre. Opponents argue it's insensitive to families and memories of Sept 11 victims to build a mosque so close to where Islamic extremists flew planes into the World Trade Center, while proponents support it as a reflection of religious freedom and diversity.

Menin said that she encouraged the project's organisers at the time to step back, reach out to Sept 11 families and even hold a town hall meeting to discuss the issue, but that they made their own decisions on how to proceed.

Now, she said, "unfortunately what has happened is people's views have become hardened."

Menin, who first outlined her idea in an opinion piece in New York's Daily News, pointed to the interfaith chapel at the Pentagon, which was built without controversy and is used by people of many faiths.

She acknowledged that there would always be people who opposed the project, but that adding the interfaith centre could be an opportunity "to try to move beyond dissention and try to bring people together."


First Published: Tuesday, August 31, 2010, 10:55

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