for Pew Forum on Aug. 20, 2010
Politicians across New York and beyond are debating the proposed construction of an Islamic center and prayer space two blocks from the World Trade Center site.
The American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative received tentative approval in late May for construction of the $100 million Islamic center in lower Manhattan, as reported by Fox News.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio voiced concern over the project in early July, according to NPR, calling on N.Y. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is also the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, to investigate the center’s funding. According to the website of the New York political program Capital
Tonight, Cuomo rejected the call for an investigation and responded to Lazio in a letter, asking, "What are we about, if not religious freedom?"
Carl Paladino, Lazio’s opponent in the Sept. 14 GOP gubernatorial primary, said in a radio ad that, if elected, he would use the power of eminent domain to prevent construction of the center. According to The Times-Union, an Albany-area newspaper, Paladino said the center is “about the Islamists wanting to illustrate that they have conquered America by taking down the World Trade Center.” Recent polls show Paladino “gaining in his challenge to Rick Lazio,” The Buffalo News reported on Aug. 3.
Other New York Republicans who have voiced opposition include Michael Faulkner, a congressional candidate in New York’s 15th district, who argued against the center on Chris Matthew’s television program, Hardball, and Dan Maloney, a candidate in New York’s 4th district who gave a speech at a rally hosted by the organization Stop Islamization of America. Republican George Pataki, the former governor of New York, argued against the construction on Fox News and MSNBC. The New York Observer reported that nine-term Congressman Peter King and Senate candidate Gary Berntsen voiced concerns about the Islamic center in a shared conference call.
Not all New York politicians are opposed to the Islamic center, however. In addition to Cuomo, the New York Post reported that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, supports the center’s construction. He called Lazio’s proposed investigation into the center’s finances “un-American,” according to AP.
Read more: http://features.pewforum.org/politics/news-briefs/the-ground-zero-mosque-debate.html