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New York: A leading Jewish organisation in the US has opposed the much-debated construction of a mosque near the Ground Zero site where the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed on 9/11, saying it would cause unnecessary pain to some victims.
The Anti-Defamation League joined the debate against the building of a mosque and Islamic Centre and said this is was not a question of rights of Muslims but a question of what is right.
Muslim organisations picked the site of a former Burlington Coat Factory shop damaged in the September 11, 2001, attacks. The building at 45 Park Place has been vacant since it was hit by the fuselage of one of the jets flown into the World Trade Centre by Islamic terrorists.
The proponents of the Islamic Centre have said it would be a centre to propagate a message of peace and inclusiveness and promote the moderate faith.
“We want to create a platform by which the voices of the mainstream and silent majority of Muslims will be amplified. A centre of this scale and magnitude will do that,” said Daisy Khan, director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, which is behind the project.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also defended the construction of a proposed mosque near Ground Zero, saying that it must be allowed to proceed because the government “should not be in the business of picking” one religion over another.
“I think it’s fair to say if somebody was going to try, on that piece of property, to build a church or a synagogue, nobody would be yelling and screaming,” The New York Post quoted Bloomberg, as saying.
“And the fact of the matter is that Muslims have a right to do it, too,” he added.
Bloomberg further argued that blocking the 13-story mosque and Islamic cultural center would violate the essence of America.
“What is great about America and particularly New York is we welcome everybody, and if we are so afraid of something like this, what does that say about us? Democracy is stronger than this. You know the ability to practice your religion was one of the real reasons America was founded,” he added.
The opponents, however, say the establishment of an Islamic Centre would hurt the sentiments of the victims and relatives of those who were killed in the September 11 attack. Earlier, two US TV networks refused to air a controversial advert condemning plans to build a mosque near the site of the 9/11 terror attacks in New York.
The advert was funded by the National Republican Trust, a conservative group not affiliated to the Republican Party.
Entitled "Kill the Ground Zero Mosque", the video calls the proposed mosque a "monstrosity" that will invite further attacks on the US.
Despite all the opposition, the financial district committee of New York Community Board 1, representing local residents, has given the proposed Islamic centre a vote of confidence at a meeting in its meeting on May 5.
The $100 million (£69 million) project would include a swimming pool, a basketball court, a 500-seat theatre and possibly a daycare centre. About 2,000 Muslims are expected to attend Friday prayers there.
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