Downtown mosque controversy heats up
While Mohammed Rauf’s Islamic Society of New York quickly became an epicenter of Islamic life on the Upper East Side when it opened in 1991, Rauf’s son Feisal Abdul Rauf is drawing an equal amount of attention with his own proposed Islamic Community Center, the Park51 project, decried by opponents as the “Ground Zero mosque.” Indeed, plans to build the Islamic center in the Cordoba House — a former Financial District Burlington Coat Factory — has drawn a firestorm of controversy among religious leaders and conservative politicians. But an equally vehement sector of the population — including a group of so-called “9/11 families” who lost family members during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center — have spoken out in support of the proposal. In this video from MSNBC, political commentator Keith Olbermann takes aim at the Islamic center’s opponents. In the meantime, Governor David Paterson announced plans today to meet with the project’s developers, after publicly suggesting that the project be moved elsewhere.