NYC Muslims want more space to pray/ Latest links to Islamic center dispute
(Photo: Manhattan building now on site of proposed Muslim cultural center and mosque, August 17, 2010/Lucas Jackson)
Muslims in lower Manhattan who have prayed in a crowded basement or in the streets say they are not looking for confrontation with opponents of a new mosque. They simply need the space.
Some New Yorkers traumatized by the September 11, 2001 attacks have emotionally opposed a proposed Muslim community center and mosque two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center. Republican politicians seeking to wrest control of Congress from Democrats in November elections have seized on the issue.
The controversy has sucked in President Barack Obama and stirred debate about the meaning of religious freedom in a nation founded in part on that principle. Competing rallies for and against the Muslim project are planned to mark this year’s ninth anniversary of the attacks.
Stuck in the middle are Muslims who work in downtown Manhattan and need a place for daily prayers.
“You know how many Muslims are in this area? On Friday the street used to be packed, and we had a pass from the police to block the streets,” said Saad Madaha, 32, a consultant originally from Ghana who prays at Masjid Manhattan in a narrow basement beneath a night club.
Here are links to other notable recent stories on this controversy:
Growing Number of Americans Say Obama is a Muslim — Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
(Photo: Building on site for proposed Muslim cultural center and mosque in New York, August 3, 2010/Mike Segar)