For Many, Mosque Issue Hits Too Close To Home

Local Leaders Speak Out On Issue

NEW YORK (CBS 2/1010 WINS/AP) — While the local issue of the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” proposal is now dominating the local stage, many politicians and pundits are calling it a game of politics.

But for the thousands of New Yorkers who live and work around the site that may become home to the planned mosque and Islamic cultural center two blocks from Ground Zero, it’s about much more than talking points. To many, it’s much more personal.

“It sounds like everyone is not happy with it,” said Joe Tracy, a lower Manhattan resident.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports

And now that plans for the center are finalized, residents who live near the site are coming to terms with what it will mean for them in their daily lives.

“I do have alternative concerns about it being built right here,” said Michelle Massaro, a lower Manhattan resident. “Being that I live right next door…In the construction sense, and for people protesting it.”

Others share in Massaro’s concerns.

“Oh, I’m definitely cautious,” said Tracy. “You should be, because it’s something that’s very raw to a lot of people.”

Still, there are others who say the construction – and the attention – is just a part of living in the Big Apple.

“Not an issue,” said Tom Shannon, another lower Manhattan resident. “I live here. I went through the whole thing…Build it. It would be an asset to the community.”

Meanwhile, developers of the proposed mosque say they are unaware of a planned meeting with New York Gov. David Paterson to discuss the project, even though Paterson’s office says one is in the works.

A Paterson spokesman said Tuesday that the governor’s staff and representatives of the proposed Islamic center have been working to set up a meeting. Paterson said last week he would consider offering state land as an alternative site for the project, which is two blocks from the World Trade Center site.

A spokesman for the project said no meeting had been scheduled but that the developers appreciated Paterson’s interest.

Republican Rep. Pete King said he had spoken to Paterson, who said he expected to meet with representatives of the project this week.

Mayor Bloomberg, however, has not waivered in his support of the construction, and he’s taking his case for the controversial mosque on the road.

“I happen to believe that that is the most important right that we have, the right to say what we want to say, which includes pray to whomever we want, in any place we want, in any manner we want,” the Mayor said during an appearance in Philadelphia. “I think that another mosque in New York City would add to its diversity and be good to the city…Our firefighters and police officers ran into two Twin Towers they didn’t ask anybody what you believe, what you said in the past, they just went in.”

Former Mayor Ed Koch is also sounding off on the issue.

“I think the President is absolutely right, and I think that Mayor Bloomberg is absolutely correct,” he said.

A spokesman says President Barack Obama isn’t worried about the furor over his comments on the planned mosque, or that the Senate’s top Democrat opposes the idea.
Deputy press secretary Bill Burton said Tuesday that Majority Leader Harry Reid is “fiercely independent,” and just one of many Americans with strong views.
Obama said Friday that Muslims have a right to worship where they please, including near Ground Zero. But on Saturday he said he wasn’t endorsing the specific plans.

Although the center is years away from completion, Islamic services are already taking place in one of the existing buildings.

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Peter

    I say build it. It will do good for the neighborhood. For all those that are mourning over 9-11….get over it. Thousands are killed everyday including by our government. This is America and people have the right to practice any religion they want and wherever. Get over it.

  • Mike

    Kind of a misleading headline. The locals are upset for the reason locals in any neighborhood would be upset over a project: construction noise and, in this case, protests and the actions protesters make take.

    Anyway, enough of this xenophobic guilt by not even association. We didn’t blame every Christian when Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murrow building in OKC and we look back in disgust at our actions of locking up Japanese US Citizens after Pearl Harbor simply because they were Japanese.

  • Ann

    Muslims have a right to worship but not where Muslim terrorists murdered Americans. I think Obama dug himself a very deep hole and I would like to see him climb out of this one!!!

  • Nicole




  • joe k

    We need to support moderate muslims like this group. And how far away from the site of the WTC would be satisfactory??

    • Marie

      They are not moderate muslims, Joe. They employ a RADICAL Imam who wants US to be sharia law compliant, who wants to open mosque on 9/11/2011, and who supports Hamas and who is endorsed by hamas.
      Please wake up. Actions do speak louder than words.

  • Marie

    With all of the red flags that have been exposed on this project you have to wonder why it was given the go ahead in the first place.
    A piece of one of the planes from 911 attack crshed through the roof of this building.
    Shouldn’t this building then be considered part of ground zero?
    Was this an incentive to buy this particular building?
    Where is homeland security
    If you see something, say something?
    I see very well.

  • Uncle Sam

    Hey Joe, instead of spouting off like a parrot, learn what your words really mean…It’s go a long way in helping you not sound so…Dumb.

    The Establishment Clause prohibits the government from passing laws that will establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. The courts have interpreted the establishment clause to accomplish the separation of church and state.

    The Free Exercise Clause prohibits the government from interfering with a person’s practice of his or her religion. However, religious actions and rituals can be limited by civil and federal laws.

    Religious actions such as building a site of worship on hallowed ground….They can practice ALL they want, just not there.

    People like you need to stop molesting our Constitution….

    • joe k

      People like me are not molesting the constitution. What ever that means. I

  • joe k

    What part of freedom of religion don’t you agree with??

    • Marie

      Once again, it is not about freedom of religion. There are hundreds of mosques in nyc.
      It is about the choice of location, the corrupt radical imam who sponsors this project, it’s their support of hamas and the endorsement from hamas, its the gall to open it on 9/11/2011. It’s calling it the Cordoba Initiative.
      This group is not aat all what they profess to be and no one care to address this concerns. All poiticians are mute. Just keep repeating that it’s a freedom of religion issue. Simply not true

  • Marianne Gennaro

    What people do not understand about this issue is the Islamic pattern of building a memorializing mosque at or near (preferably at) the site of a jihadic “victory”. This is why the cathedral of Sancta Sophia in Istanbul is no longer (as has not been for many, many centuries) a Christian basilica but a Muslim mosque

  • Ash M

    I wonder how many jobs a 100 million dollar project will bring to the area? How many other businesses will benefir, how many suppliers will see black on their balance sheet again? I thought people wanted jobs????

  • Alice J

    We are told this site is to foster cultural sensitivity. The Muslim community must have guessed how turbulent this would be. Where is their sensitivity to those who suffered the horror of 9/11? With an island the size of Manhattan, why build there? Why do they intend to dedicate it on the 10th anniversary of that horrific day? They’re sticking our noses in it and pols are bending over backwards for them.

    • Denise M

      Alice i totally agree with you. My brother was murdered in the South Tower that day and i am very upset about this. There are so many places in New York where they can build a mosque. Why pick over there? The idea that it will also be dedicated on the 10th anniversary? That is just cruel. My family and i live with what happened every day but since this mosque being built was brought up it just brings back all the feelings we had when it first happened.

      • Alice J

        My condolences on the loss of your brother. I knew several people who were murdered that day. People are so stuck on the right too build. While it may be legal it sure isn’t moral. They should have taken victims families into consideration . They must have known that it would conjure up such grief people experienced when radical Muslims in the name of Allah killed thousands. I just question their judgment and now their motives.

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