by Adeena Schlussel on behalf of Daniel Lubetzky
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a OneVoice board member has become the subject of accusation in a fierce debate about constructing a proposed mosque nearby to Ground Zero that he is actively spearheading. Opponents feel that building a mosque in close proximity to the location of the 9/11 attacks would be disrespectful or even threatening. The Daily News, Wall Street Journal and New York Magazine and other news sources all feature articles depicting the criticisms that come from a population that is otherwise known as one of the most tolerant around the world.
Rick Lazio challenges Cuomo over legality of Ground Zero mosque funding, cites ‘security questions’
BY Lore Croghan
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Originally Published:Wednesday, July 7th 2010, 1:58 PM
Updated: Thursday, July 8th 2010, 2:21 AM
Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio challenged his Democratic opponent Wednesday to explore the legality of the funding behind a proposed mosque near Ground Zero.
"New Yorkers have a right to feel safe and be safe," Lazio told reporters in lower Manhattan. "There are serious security questions about the appropriateness of this mosque."
Lazio demanded Attorney General Andrew Cuomo figure out where the backers of the Cordoba House expect to get $100 million to build it.
"Anyone who has evidence of wrongdoing should send it to us, and we will review it," Cuomo replied in a statement.
In a letter he sent to Cuomo, Lazio cited press accounts that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who’s spearheading the mosque’s construction, is a "key figure" in an organization that funded the flotilla that sought to break Israel‘s Gazablockade.
Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles was a pilot on the plane terrorists crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11, said the imam has written about his hopes of bringing strict Islamic law to the United States.
"He means to use the Ground Zero location of the mosque to ‘leverage’ people to Islam," said Burlingame, the co-founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America.
Organizers behind Cordoba House have said they have peaceful intentions and the mosque is just one part of a larger community center that will be open to everyone.
The center would be located on Park Place, about two blocks from the World Trade Center site.
Poll: Majority of New Yorkers Oppose Ground Zero Mosque
- Cordoba Initiative
More than 50% of New York City voters oppose a plan by a Muslim group to build a mosque and cultural center just blocks away from Ground Zero, according to a poll released Thursday by Quinnipiac University.
“New York enjoys a reputation as one of the most tolerant places in America, but…opponents suggest that the mosque would dishonor the memory of the [9/11] attack’s victims,” said Maurice Carroll, the director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
According to the poll, 52% of New Yorkers oppose the plan to build the mosque and cultural center, known as the Cordoba House, compared to 31% who are in favor of it and 17% who are undecided.
The poll of more than 1,000 registered voters across the city found that support for the $100 million project appeared to be strongest in Manhattan, where 46% of poll respondents said they were in favor of it, compared to 36% who said they were opposed.
Elsewhere across the five boroughs, the project appears to face staunch opposition, especially in Staten Island and Brooklyn, where as The Journal’s Sumathi Reddy reports, local chapters of the Muslim American Society want to build mosques in Sheepshead Bay and Midland Beach.
In Staten Island 73% of respondents said they were against the Cordoba House proposal, compared to 14% who said they supported it. In Brooklyn and the Bronx, 57% of respondents said they opposed the mosque and cultural center, while in Queens opposition stood at 52%.
The poll found that whites, Hispanics, Jews and Catholics appeared to be more likely to be opposed to bringing the mosque and cultural center near Ground Zero. Blacks and protestants– while still largely against the plan–revealed more divided opinions, the poll reported.
Despite the opposition, 44% of New Yorkers said they had a generally favorable opinion of Islam, compared to 28% who have an unfavorable view of the religion and 28% who didn’t know. A majority of those indicating favorable opinions tended to support the plan for Cordoba House, the poll reported, while those with an unfavorable opinion of Islam were almost unanimously against it.
In May, the project, which is being spearheaded by the American Society for Muslim Advancement, received the support of Lower Manhattan’s Community Board 1. Yet as Metropolis previously reported, board officials said they only voted on the proposal for the cultural center, not the mosque, which has generated some controversy.
Objections aside, the biggest obstacle to the 13-story project appears to be history. Later this month, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will decide whether the building currently on the site is architecturally significant enough to merit protected status. That in and of itself would not derail the mosque and cultural center, but it will make it unlikely that the building could be demolished to build the proposed projects.
The Ground Zero Mosque Is Now a Campaign Issue
7/7/10 at 2:10 PM
Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio, languishing far behind Democratic front-runner Andrew Cuomo, needs something to shake up the race. How about anti-Islamic sentiment? Yes, that will do. A few days after a poll showed that a majority of New Yorkers oppose the building of a mosque and community center two blocks from ground zero, Lazio has released a letter calling on Cuomo (who supports the mosque) as attorney general to investigate certain issues the media has raised about the mosque’s leader, including his refusal to label Hamas a terrorist organization and his membership in an organization that donated money to the Palestinian aid flotillas — neither of which are illegal, but sure, why not?