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Change Of Heart For Major Mosque Backer

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Community Board 1 President Julie Menin explains her suggestions for Park51. (credit: CBS 2)

Community Board 1 President Julie Menin explains her suggestions for Park51. (credit: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — CBS 2’s Jay Dow reports on perhaps the most notable development in the debate over the Ground Zero mosque: a change in approach as described in an op-ed piece by Community Board 1 President Julie Menin.

“What I am suggesting is taking a floor of the center and having it dedicated to non-denominational interfaith worship, and really trying to bring all the parties together, and having the center serve as a beacon of hope just as the interfaith chapel at the Pentagon is a beacon of hope,” she said.

Menin initially voted in favor of the proposed Islamic center. That was before the project mushroomed into a divisive, paralyzing discourse into the issue of religious tolerance and the most appropriate way to respect the families of those killed on September 11.

“Out of respect to them, it either needs to be moved or changed,” said Staten Island resident Brad Walters.

“My ultimate comment is that we shouldn’t judge a whole religion on the actions of a few,” said Carolina Piedra-Hica of Queens.

Menin’s revised position raised new questions: What exactly should be considered a compromise? Would a multi-faith approach serve as a reasonable solution or would it diminish the center’s intended purpose?

For the center’s opponents, it’s a non-issue. They simply want it moved.

In an interview with an Abu Dhabi-based newspaper, Imam Feisal Abdul-Rauf, who’s spearheading the project, said he hopes to enlighten anyone who continues to inaccurately equate Islam with extremism. “And this is why it is important: the issue of radicalism is a threat to all of us. We have radicals in the Muslim world and we have radicals in the other faith traditions as well.”

There have also been questions about funding, but developer Sharif El-Gamal told “60 Minutes” — “We will not take money from Iran. We will not take money from Hamas. We will not take money from organizations that have unAmerican values.”

Rauf said he intended to address the controversy directly upon his return to the country he calls his homeland.

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