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Imam may shift planned mosque near Ground Zero

September 14, 2010 02:31 IST

Amid the widespread opposition against the planned mosque near Ground Zero in the United States, the cleric leading the effort to build an Islamic centre in New York may consider shifting its location from the controversial spot.

"Our advisers have been looking at every option -- including that," Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was quoted as saying by the New York Post on Monday, when asked whether he would shift the mosque.

The embattled Imam also pointed that a future solution needed to be agreed to by all parties embroiled in this debate. "The way we confront our problems in the United States...is watched all over the world," Rauf said.

"I need a space where the voice of the moderates can be heard. We need a platform where the voice of modern Muslims can be amplified...This is an opportunity that we must capitalise on," he added.

Rauf made these remarks on Monday -- two days after thousands of people gathered for pro and anti-mosque rallies near Ground Zero on the ninth anniversary of September 11 terror attacks at the World Trade Centre in New York.

This was shift from the position the Imam espoused last week after returning to New York, following a two-month trip in the Middle East. Rauf wrote in a New York Times op-ed that he intends to keep the mosque in its current location.

"We are proceeding with the community centre, Cordoba House," he wrote, adding, "I am convinced that it is the right thing to do for many reasons. More important, we are doing so with the support of the downtown community, government at all levels and leaders from across the religious spectrum, who will be our partners," he wrote.

While many have seen the name of the Islamic Centre- Cordoba House- as symbolising the Muslims entry into Spain, Rauf pointed out that the name was chosen because it signified peace.

"Our initiative is intended to cultivate understanding among all religions and cultures," he said, adding, "There will be separate prayer spaces for people of many faiths to pray and a multi-faith memorial dedicated to victims of the September 11 attacks."

Opinion polls suggests a majority of Americans, and some 70 percent of New Yorkers, think the mosque should be moved further from Ground Zero.

Even as supporters cite religious freedom, those opposing the proposal so close to where Islamic extremists brought down the World Trade Centre in 2001, say putting a mosque at the site shows disrespect for the dead.

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