Q: What are the facts about the proposed cultural center and mosque near New York's former World Trade Center?
A: We answer questions we've been asked most often by readers about the controversial project.
A clearly divisive issue has been brewing in America as well as the headlines, concerning the creation of a mosque/community center (relatively) near the site of the September 11 tragedy, ground zero. The facts have been obscured by all sides and replaced by emotional scare tactics and slippery-sloping, in argument for and against. I was hoping FactCheck.org would be able to shed light on the issue in an article with particulars, such as the individuals and organizations involved, the actual location, and the truths and lies presented by public figures concerning the case.
With so much being said and written about the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque to be built in New York's Lower Manhattan, our inbox is full of questions from readers. They've asked us to sort fact from fiction as it relates to what the center's sponsors call the Park51 project, and what detractors refer to somewhat inaccurately as the “Ground Zero Mosque.” So, here we'll answer some of the main questions we've been asked about the controversial center.
We take no position as to whether or not the Park51 project should go forward. One key consideration in particular — whether the project offends the sensitivities of families of those who died at the World Trade Center site — is a matter of emotion on which opinions differ, and on which facts have little bearing. But to the extent that facts matter, they shouldn't be twisted or misrepresented.
Is it a mosque, or a cultural center?
It would be a cultural center with a mosque inside. The “Ground Zero Mosque” label is not entirely accurate, although it has been commonly used to describe the planned $100 million project. First, the proposed location is not immediately adjacent to ground zero (which we'll get to in a minute). And while the facility would include a mosque, or a space for Muslim prayer services, the project's organizers say that the mosque will only be part of a much larger “world-class community center” that will offer a variety of activities and resources, and will welcome all, without regard to religion: