NYC community board head wants interfaith centre
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."
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