Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Masjid Near Ground Zero

The New York Times reports on the efforts of a group of Muslims in New York to buy the Burlington Coat Factory which was damaged by wreckage from the World Trade Centreon 9/11. The building is close to the ground zero site and this seesm to have encouraged the group to consider it as a site for their masjid:

"The location was precisely a key selling point for the group of Muslims who bought the building in July. A presence so close to the World Trade Center, “where a piece of the wreckage fell,” said Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the cleric leading the project, “sends the opposite statement to what happened on 9/11.”

“We want to push back against the extremists,” added Imam Feisal, 61

But though the imam is adamant about what his intentions for the site are, there is anxiety among those involved or familiar with the project that it could very well become a target for anti-Muslim attacks.

Joan Brown Campbell, director of the department of religion at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York and former general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ U.S.A., who is a supporter of Imam Feisal, acknowledged the possibility of a backlash from those opposed to a Muslim presence at ground zero.

But, she added: “Building so close is owning the tragedy. It’s a way of saying: ‘This is something done by people who call themselves Muslims. We want to be here to repair the breach, as the Bible says.’ ”

With 50,000 square feet of air rights, Imam Feisal said, the location, with enough financing, could support an ambitious project of $150 million, akin to the Chautauqua Institution, the 92 Street Y or the Jewish Community Center.

Joy Levitt, executive director of the Jewish Community Center, said the group would be proud to be a model for Imam Feisal at ground zero. “For the J.C.C. to have partners in the Muslim community that share our vision of pluralism and tolerance would be great,” she said."

You can read the full article and view a slide show here.

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