ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – Muslim leaders in the United States were criticizing New York Gov. David Paterson for his description of the developers of a mosque planned near Ground Zero as peaceful, “almost westernized” Muslims.
They said the Democrat mischaracterized the Muslim branch known as Sufi and his comment suggests other Muslims are a problem.
In broadcast interviews Thursday, Paterson said Sufi Muslims trying to build the Islamic center two blocks from the World Trade Center site weren’t like Shiite Muslims. He said the developers weren’t what he would classify as “mainland Muslim.”
Shiites are the second-largest branch of Muslims and are the majority in Iraq.
Paterson hasn’t responded to a request for comment. He defended Islam as a peaceful religion.