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City Leader Wants Interfaith Center Instead Of Mosque

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- There was a change of heart Monday from one of the most vocal supporters of the proposed Islamic center near ground zero.

The head of Manhattan's Community Board One, originally a strong proponent of the controversial construction, said the developer should change his plans.

Julie Menin initially voted in favor of the proposed Islamic center. That was before the project mushroomed into a divisive, paralyzing discourse into the issue of religious tolerance and the most appropriate way to respect the families of those killed on September 11.

"This dissension is no productive for our city, no productive for our country and you really need to figure out how to bring the parties together," she said.

She announced her changing opinion in an Op-Ed piece for Monday's Daily News, where she suggested the developer offer an olive branch by dedicating one entire floor of the proposed center to "interfaith non-denominational activities."

Menin points out that such a place already exists. In fact, it's at the sire of one of the 9/11 attacks: The Pentagon.

The Pentagon created an interfaith chapel used by Muslims, Christians and Jews alike as part of its 9/11 Memorial.

"We should look at that model, which was not controversial at all, and try to use the best elements of out of that model here," she said.

A spokesman for the developer called Menin's proposal "interesting" – which could indicate a willingness to talk.

Meanwhile, a group of concerned Muslims spoke out and released a public service announcement Monday.

"We're concerned about this rising tide of anti-Muslim sentiment," said Hassan Ahman of the My Faith, My Voice Campaign.

This is released after a recent poll, showing that 44 percent of Americans surveyed have a favorable view of the Muslim faith.

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