08 October 2010
The 1986 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel has come out in favor of an inter-faith center near the site of the 9/11 terror attacks in Manhattan, rather than the controversial 'Ground Zero mosque'. The plan by American Muslims to build a mosque and Islamic center in New York near where the World Trade Centre towers once stood has been attracting outrage for several months, including from some of the families of victims of the 2001 terror attacks. Speaking at an event in Washington, the 82-year-old Holocaust survivor and human rights campaigner said: "Let's turn it around - let's do it together. Jews, Christians, and Muslims together will create this place... sponsored together, financed together." Wiesel said such it would be a sign of religious solidarity.
He added: "It can become a very great symbol here, a great monument for humanity." He said that while he thought the mosque's instigator, Imam Faisal Rauf, had good intentions, building it so close to the site of the World Trade Center would "hurt some people who have suffered." Wiesel's proposal was backed by senior Obama adviser David Axelrod, who said: "That sounds like a wonderful idea. It gives me hope."
The construction of the Cordoba Initiative has the support of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and prominent Jewish lawyer Alan Dershowitz. However, other Jewish voices, including the Anti-Defamation League's national director Abraham Foxman, and Judea Pearl, the father of the journalist murdered in Pakistan by terrorists, have appealed for it to be built elsewhere.