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Thursday, 2 September 2010

Is America anti-Islamic? 'Hostile atmosphere' goes beyond Ground Zero mosque, claim 50 Muslim groups

More than 50 leading Muslim groups have decried the hostile 'anti-Islamic' atmosphere they say is gripping America today.

Tension in New York over plans to build a mosque near Ground Zero are rising, especially as the ninth anniversary of 9/11 approaches.

But leaders of the Majlis Ash-Shura of Metropolitan New York, an Islamic leadership council that represents a broad spectrum of Muslims in the city, said the sentiment is growing beyond the mosque plans.

'The bigger issue and the broader issue is the issue of ethnic and religious hatred being spread by groups trying to stop the building of mosques and Islamic institutions across the country,' said Imam Al Amin Abdul Latif, president of the Majlis Ash-Shura.

He spoke at a demonstration on the steps of City Hall in New York today.

The group cited a suspicious fire that damaged construction equipment at the site of a future mosque in Tennessee that is being investigated by the FBI.

They also pointed to the successful opposition to the proposed conversion of a property owned by a Catholic Church into a mosque and community center on Staten Island, a New York City borough off the southern tip of Manhattan.

And they declared opposition to the Ground Zero mosque 'unethical, insensitive and inhumane', pointing out that Muslims were also victims and first responders in the 9/11 attacks.

The imam behind the project, meanwhile, was preparing to return to the U.S. after a taxpayer-funded good will tour to the Mideast.

There, he he said the debate is about much more than 'a piece of real estate'.

The imam told a group in Dubai on Tuesday that the dispute over the mosque 'has expanded beyond a piece of real estate and expanded to Islam in America and what it means for America'.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf sidestepped questions about whether he would consider moving the $100 million mosque and Islamic community centre to another location.

But the leaders of the Majlis Ash-Shura, while supporting the developers' right to build the mosque, said they would support a move to another location.

Rick Lazio, a Republican candidate for governor of New York who has opposed the mosque in lower Manhattan, has said criticism is 'not an issue of religion'.

Like many critics, he has said it is an issue of being sensitive to the families of 9/11 victims and transparency regarding the center's funding.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday showed 71 per cent of New Yorkers want the developers to voluntarily move the project.

Daily Mail