Central New York Muslims React to Mosque Controversy

Local Muslims are speaking out about whether or not to build a mosque in New York City, near ground zero.

At the Islamic Society of Central New York, several people spoke in favor of the mosque.

"I think building a mosque anywhere should not be an issue. Just as a church can be built anywhere, and a synagogue can be built anywhere, you should be able to build a mosque anywhere," Tanweer Haq, of Lafayette.

Mohamed Khater used to work in New York City. He says the proposed Muslim Cultural Center and mosque are very necessary. He says there are a lot of Muslim people working in Manhattan, and they need a place where they can pray five times a day.

"It's not going to be a place that would start terrorism or terrorist activity," says Khater. "To the contrary, it should improve the relationship between the Muslims and the other faiths in the area."

President Barack Obama spoke about the issue Friday, saying Muslims have the right to practice their religion as everyone else. However, since then, he's said he's not commenting on whether or not it's right or wrong to build the mosque at that location.

Opponents of the mosque say it's too close to ground zero, and it would betray the victims of the September 11th attacks.

Khater says the attacks were carried out by an extremist group, and there were Muslims killed on September 11, too. He says Islam is a religion that promotes acceptance and freedom.

Click these links for more information: Islamic Society of CNY (site currently under construction), Syracuse University Muslim Students Association.Also, click here for another CNYCentral story with your viewer comments.