NEW YORK (CBS 2 / WCBS 880/AP) — Feisal Abdul Rauf was on a State Department-funded trip to the Persian Gulf, aimed at promoting reigious tolerance, and as CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reports, he’s returning to New York at a time of increased worry over just where the money for Park51 is coming from.
Despite recent assurances from developer Sharif El-Gamal that “we will not take money from Iran, we will not take money from Hamas,” an overwhelming number of New Yorkers want prosecutors to keep tabs on the financing.
“Because I think the terrorists think that’s their trophy down there and that’s what it’s all about,” said Jimmy Reardon of Greenwich Village.
“It’s very hard because you don’t want to incite any prejudice but at the same time I undertand and can respect why people are upset about it,” said Tina LaMorte of Maywood, N.J.
“We don’t know where they’re getting the money from and we should know as Americans, as New Yorkers,” said Margart Healy of Columbus Circle.
A new poll by Quinnipiac University shows that by a margin of 71 to 21, New Yorkers want the mosque moved someplace else, and by a margin of 71 to 22 they want Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to investigate the source of the funding.
The margin of error was plus or minus 2.5.
“This is going back to Jim Crow days. This is like ‘OK we want you to get on the back of the bus.’ That’s basicaly what they’re trying to tell the Islamic communicy and that’s not going to be acceptable,” said Zead Ramadan of CAIR.
Mosque supporters charge that investgating the funding of just one religious institution and not others shows prejudice.
“If this poll asked such questions as do you think auditing is good, they’d say no,” Ramadan said. “Do you want your church or synague to be audited? No. Do you want them to be audited? They say yes. That’s based in bigotry. That’s based in racism. It’s based in hate.”
“I think it’s a terrible precendent. You don’t want them investigating donations to religious organizations and there’s no reason for their government to do so,” Mayor Bloomberg said.
Meanwhile, more than 50 leaders of Muslim organizations in New York City are defending the controversial Islamic center.
Members of the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York gathered on the steps of City Hall Wednesday to call for a stop to religious intolerance.
They said the notion that Muslims shouldn’t gather or pray near the 9/11 site is “unethical, insensitive and inhumane.”
The group was joined by supporters including U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel.
(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.)