Muslim center planned for building damaged on 9/11

By Associated Press
Friday, May 7, 2010

NEW YORK -- Two Muslim organizations have partnered to open a mosque and cultural center in a 13-story building damaged by debris from the Sept. 11, 2001, airliners that brought down the World Trade Center.

The organizations say the $100 million project in Lower Manhattan will create visibility for mainstream Islam and a counterbalance to radicalism. The plan earned a key endorsement this week from influential community leaders.

But some Sept. 11 victims' family members said they were angry that it would be built so close to where their relatives died.

"I don't like it," Evelyn Pettigano, who lost a sister in the attacks, said Thursday. "I'm not prejudiced. . . . It's too close to the area where our family members were murdered."

The growing number of congregants at the only other nearby mosque, open one day a week, created a need for an additional space for Muslim prayer in the neighborhood, said Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement and a board member of the Cordoba Initiative, the two organizations sponsoring the project.

The history associated with the building, a former Burlington Coat Factory store that closed after being damaged in the attacks, was a reason to pick it for the project, she said.

"We want to create a platform by which the voices of the mainstream and silent majority of Muslims will be amplified. A center of this scale and magnitude will do that," Khan said. "We feel it's an obligation as Muslims and Americans to be part of the rebuilding of downtown Manhattan."

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