Proposed Mosque Near Ground Zero Stokes Debate

There's a heated debate in New York over plans to build a mosque near the World Trade Center site.

Opponents call it a mosque that's in the worst possible place.

"This site should be turned into a museum," said one New Yorker.

Supporters call it a cultural center in the best spot to encourage understanding.

"If a mosque were built then you guys would know what Islam is about," said mosque advocate Dania Darwish.

At issue, a building in lower Manhattan, the proposed site of a 13-story community center and Islamic prayer space, reports CBS News correspondent Jeff Glor.

"This is the Muslim community's effort to rebuild Manhattan," said Park 51 Project spokeswoman Daisy Khan.

The controversy is that it's only two blocks from ground zero. Tthis week Sarah Palin upped an already raucous debate when on Twitter she called on "peaceful" Muslims to "refudiate" the plan, calling it "a stab in the heart" for America.

Palin's "Refudiate" Tweet on Mosque Draws Fire

Liberal bloggers pounced on the made-up word "refudiate" and Palin retracted her Tweet but not her sentiment, saying Shakespeare "liked to coin new words too."

Grammatical debates aside, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has come out firmly in support of the plan. "Everything the United States stands for and New York stands for is tolerance and openness," he said.

"My hope is that [the community center] attracts a lot of people who don't understand Islam," said Valerie Lucznikowska of 9/11 Families for a Peaceful Tomorrow

Tim brown, a former New York City firefighter who lost 93 colleagues on Sept. 11, calls the proposal a slap in the face. He has a message for the developers.

"Stop it. Stop hurting the families. Everyday there are stories in the newspaper. They're hurting the families again. They don't deserve it. These American families have paid too much," he said.

Brown and others, including New York gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio, are calling for an investigation into financing behind the $4.8 million building purchase.

Their concerns, spurred in part by comments the center's imam, Faisel Rauf, made to "60 Minutes" in 2001, just weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks:

"I wouldn't say that the United States deserved what happened but United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened," said Rauf.

Citing anti-Americanism, opponents are pushing to have the building declared a landmark making it far more difficult for any Muslim center construction to begin.
  • Jeff Glor

    Jeff Glor was named anchor of the Sunday edition of the "CBS Evening News" in January 2012 and Special Correspondent for "CBS This Morning" in November 2011.

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