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'Ground Zero mosque' debate hits the streets of New York

The debate over the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” hit the streets of New York Sunday. The controversy has led to increasing talk of moving the site of the proposed center.

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A defender of the proposed Islamic Center shows her feelings Sunday August 22 in New York. Several hundred demonstrators for and against the proposed Islamic Center near ground zero were kept apart by police.

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The debate over the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” hit the streets of New York Sunday.

The weather fit the mood – gray skies and rain – and there were a few scuffles and shouted exchanges. But police officers and barricades kept several hundred demonstrators on each side separated.

The proposed site is several blocks away from the World Trade Center, attacked in 2001 by Islamic terrorists, in a neighborhood that includes bars, strip clubs, and an off-track betting facility. Still, it is “hallowed ground” to many who oppose the Islamic Center – including politicians using it to batter President Obama.

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This has led to increasing talk of moving the site of the proposed center, which is not a “mosque” as most people might envision it with a dome, minarets, and amplified calls to prayer but more like a YMCA or Jewish Community Center – architecturally plain with an auditorium, swimming pool, and meeting rooms as well as a prayer space (but no loud speakers).

Roman Catholic Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, has offered to mediate the issue. A model, he suggests, is when Pope John Paul II ordered nuns to move from a convent at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp after protests from Jewish leaders.

“He’s the one who said, ‘Let’s keep the idea, and maybe move the address,’ ” Archbishop Dolan told the New York Times. “It worked there; might work here.”

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