New York Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Thursday joined a growing number of politicians supporting a move of a proposed Islamic center and mosque near ground zero to state-owned land farther from the Sept. 11 attack site.
Giuliani, who led New Yorkers through Sept. 11 and its aftermath and whose opinion on the mosque could carry considerable clout, made his comments as the imam leading plans for the community center toured the Middle East promoting religious tolerance.
“If you are a healer, you do not go forward with this project,” Giuliani said on NBC’s “Today” show, referring to the center’s leader, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. “If you are a warrior, you do.”
Developers want to build the $100 million community center, including a mosque, at a building two blocks north of where Islamic extremists brought down the World Trade Center in 2001. Muslims have been holding prayer services at the building since last year.
Support is growing for a possible land swap to provide an alternate site for what’s called the Park51 project, Gov. David Paterson said.
“One of the problems the cultural center is going to have is just a constant point of antagonism, which I don’t think is what they want,” Paterson told WOR Radio on Thursday.
Paterson said he had the support of Islamic clergy, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Giuliani. The governor and state officials refused to say what site would be suitable for the proposed cultural center or where the state owns nearby land.
Paterson said he expects to meet with the developers in a couple of days to persuade them that a move could best assuage the “national hysteria” that has followed the project.