Mosque’s Plan to Expand Near Ground Zero Sparks Debate

May 26, 2010

Author: Josh Nathan-Kazis

Source: The Jewish Daily Forward

A plan to build a Muslim community center and mosque near the site of the September 11 terrorist attacks in Lower Manhattan has drawn fierce opposition, despite the moderate reputation of the imam spearheading the effort.

Community members voted to support the project, and Jewish leaders who have worked with Feisal Abdul Rauf speak highly of the imam’s commitment to interfaith dialogue. But some also advise respect for the objections to the center that have been raised by certain victims’ families, who view it as an affront to the memory of those who died nearly nine years ago.

“The families of the victims of 9/11 don’t have to make distinctions about who in the Muslim community they’re dealing with,” said Rabbi Michael Paley, scholar-in-residence at UJA-Federation of New York. “And so I’m openhearted. At the same time, I can’t think of anybody that’s been more present for interfaith dialogue, and particularly the needs of the Jewish community, than Feisal Abdul Rauf and Daisy Khan.” Khan is Rauf’s wife, and the executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, one of the groups spearheading the project.