Politics

No Meeting Set on Mosque Despite Offer From New York Governor

The developers behind a proposed Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero deny any talks with New York Gov. David Paterson about plans to move the location of the facility, even as Paterson's office says it has renewed efforts to broker a deal over the project. 

A written statement from the Cordoba Initiative, the group pushing to build the Islamic center in lower Manhattan, said no meetings have been scheduled between Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf and Paterson, "nor have there been any communications between the offices of Cordoba Initiative and the governor."

Paterson last week offered his help and the possibility that state land could be used for an alternative site for the project.

"We are working with the developers on a staff level but there have not been any formal discussions between the governor and imam or developer," Morgan Hook, a spokesman for Paterson told The Wall Street Journal, on Tuesday. "However, we expect to have a meeting scheduled in the near future."

Hook declined to say whether Paterson would offer state land to relocate the project -- a proposal he floated last week.

Rep. Peter King, a Long Island Republican who opposes the site of the project, said Paterson phoned him Tuesday to say he planned to meet with the developers to talk about an alternative site. 

On Park51's official Twitter account, a statement simply said: "We're moving ahead with current plans."

The 13-story Islamic cultural center and mosque that would be located two blocks from where the World Trade Center stood until Sept. 11, 2001, has raised a national argument over the First Amendment and anger over the terror attacks. 

Supporters say the mosque and its founders do not represent the beliefs of anyone associated with the attack on the U.S. that day, and its construction will represent the freedom of religion that America prizes. 

Opponents say it's not a constitutional question, but one of right and wrong since no one wants to deny the Muslim community the right to practice its religion, but to show a greater respect and sensitivity for the tragedy.