Moving the Ground Zero Mosque: Would it Help?

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The debate over the proposed Muslim mosque near Ground Zero spilled into the streets of New York City Sunday with voices for and against it growing louder by the day.

Emotions, outrage, suspicions, and prejudices took center stage at demonstrations for and against an Islamic community center slated to be built just two blocks from Ground Zero.

"What's very upsetting is over 1,100 family members were never found," said Louis D'Cacchiolo, retired NYC firefighter. "To me that's a cemetery."

"People say it's too close to Ground Zero," said Matt Sky, an Islamic center supporter. "Well, where does the First Amendment kick in again -- two blocks, three blocks, a mile away, a state away?"

President Obama's recent comments on the Ground Zero mosque have brought politics into the controversy.  If the mosque is moved, will it help Obama and the Democratic party?  Click play for analysis from CBN News White House Correspondent David Brody, following the updated report.

Also, Stephen Schwartz, executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, told CBN News he opposes the Ground Zero mosque because it's hurting the American Muslim community. Click here for his comments.

The signs carried by the demonstrators said volumes. One sign at the pro-mosque rally read, "NYC Says No to Bigotry," and another read, "Stop Islamophobia."

At the anti-mosque rally there were other signs. "You can build a mosque at Ground Zero when we can build a synagogue in Mecca," one sign read. Another read, "Building a mosque at Ground Zero is like building a memorial to Hitler at Auschwitz."

The chants of the demonstrators summed up raw feelings in just a few sharp words. At the pro-mosque rally, the crowd chanted, "Hallowed Ground: that's a lie. You don't care if Muslims die," while signs at the anti-mosque rally read, "Not here! Not Now! Not Ever!"

"Why put it so close if you want to bring people together?" asked Steve Morris, who opposes the mosque. "Put it away from it so that there's no pictures to show that this mosque is right where our children died."

On ABC's "This Week" Sunday, one of the organizers behind the mosque likened the backlash to racism.

"It's not even Islamophobia, it's beyond Islamophobia," said Daisy Kahn, executive director of American Society for Muslim Advancement. "It's hate of Muslims."

Many protestors against the mosque were construction workers who have said they will not help build the Islamic center.

"Yeah, I would, I would definitely refuse to work on it, I think it's just too close to home here," one construction worker said.

"I just don't think it's right, I don't think it's right," another construction worker said. "They could find another location.

"My prediction is that mosque is not going to be built in that location," said New York City public relations expert Mike Paul. "It's too much of a hot potato. That the freedom of religion that made people leave another country to come here ironically in the first place, is going to be superceded by the pain of an issue that rumbled around the world with that hole that's still in the ground as a symbol."

The mosque builders made it clear they are not moving the location, but they are consulting with their shareholders on the issue.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.