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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ground Zero victory mosque - on or off?

A report in Haaretz on Monday night indicated that the Ground Zero victory mosque was going to be moved away from Ground Zero (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
After weeks of heated debate over plans for an Islamic community center near Ground Zero - the site of the 9/11 attacks on New York - it seems Muslim leaders will soon back down, agreeing to move to a new site.

The decision follows a high-profile campaign against the project that included advertisements on New York buses showing images of the burning Twin Towers, an iconic landmark razed when al-Qaida terrorists flew packed passenger planes into them in 2001. The New York Republican party is also said to be planning a hostile television campaign.
Sources in New York said on Monday that Muslim religious and business leaders will announce plans to abandon the project in the next few days.

New York Governor David Patterson said last weekend that Muslim leaders had rejected outright his proposal to swap the site in for another in Manhattan.

But several people familiar with the debate among New York's Islamic activists now claim that the leaders are convinced abandoning the site is preferable to unleashing a wave of bitterness towards Muslims.

They also hope the move will be seen as a show of sensitivity to families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks, and to the American public generally.

Another factor in the apparent climbdown is a lack of funds to pay for construction of the center, estimated to cost a hundred million dollars. Backers hope moving it will lead to a wave of support, accompanied by cash donations.

It is also possible that the decision was also influenced by comments made by U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday, in which he appeared to reverse an earlier show of support.
I didn't run this story on Monday night because it was almost immediately denied.
UPDATE from our Sam Goldsmith, who's been following this issue and just got off the phone with Sharif El-Gamal, the developer of the project:

"That's complete misinformation. That's crazy," El-Gamal said.

"That's totally totally wrong. This is more misinformation in this web of misinformation."

"We've never even talked about this as an idea. Everything is on track and moving forward at the same location."
I don't believe they're dropping the plan. But that doesn't mean that we should let up on getting them to drop it.


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