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New Yorkers fight three new mosques
Project planned near ground zero
“Is this really happening in America — a nation that boasts of its religious tolerance and pluralism?” he said in his letter. “Sadly, the answer is, yes.”
The furor over the Brooklyn mosque led 150 Muslim families to hold a peaceful demonstration this summer calling for respect for their right to pray and teach Islamic values, which they say condemn terrorism and violence.
Building plans must be approved by the New York City Department of Buildings, which has not set a date for a hearing on final approval of the project.
But perhaps the most controversial plans lie near the heart of ground zero, the site of the Sept. 11 attack in Lower Manhattan.
The Cordoba Initiative plans to build a $100 million, 13-story mosque and Islamic cultural center just two blocks from the site. Despite protests from families affected by Sept. 11, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg supports the project, arguing that the mosque’s construction is about religious freedom.
“If somebody wants to build a religious house of worship, they should do it and we shouldn’t be in the business of picking which religions can and which religions can’t,” he said in an official statement in support of the plan. “I think it’s fair to say if somebody was going to try to on that piece of property build a church or a synagogue, nobody would be yelling or screaming. And the fact of the matter is that Muslims have a right to do it, too.”
Ms. Gellar said the issue is rooted in the location.
“It would be an insult, a stab in the eye, to build a megamosque,” said Ms. Gellar. “It’s a war memorial — it shouldn’t be a mosque. Not that we shouldn’t build mosques in New York, but a mosque at ground zero is offensive.”
The Washington Times sent the Cordoba Initiative an e-mail request for an interview but received no answer.
Pollsters have also got into the furor.
The Quinnipiac University Polling Institute released a survey July 1 that showed that New York City voters opposed the ground zero plan 52 percent to 31 percent, with 17 percent undecided. According to 42 percent of voters, the mosque “is an insult to the memory and families of 9/11 victims.”
Opposition polled higher than support in most demographic groups, including Democrats (45 percent to 37 percent), despite the findings that 56 percent of New Yorkers say they know a Muslim personally and more claim to have a favorable view of Islam than an unfavorable one (44 percent to 28 percent).
The poll of 1,183 New York City registered voters, conducted June 21-28, had an error margin of 2.9 percentage points.
It also found strong differences in the city’s boroughs — 46 percent of Manhattanites support the project and 73 percent of Staten Islanders oppose it — suggesting that the mosque fights have become entangled.
“Liberal Manhattan accepts the mosque and trusts Islam. Staten Island, where there’s controversy about another proposed mosque, is more skeptical,” Maurice Carroll, the institute’s director, said in his group’s news release.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
By Tom Fitton
New photos confirm the attack's coordination and its cover-up
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