NYC Mosque Opponents Fight for 'Sacred' Ground

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Emotions ran high at a public hearing, Tuesday, where families of 9/11 victims and other opponents met to convince New York City officials to uphold the sanctity of a site near Ground Zero that could eventually be a mosque.

About 150 people attended the meeting with New York's Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Each of the opponents argued that the Cordoba Mosque set to replace a building just blocks away from where the 9/11 attacks took place is an insult to those killed.

"We don't know today if there are parts of human remains in that building or any of the others," said Barbara Paolucci, who opposes the the building.

"To deprive this building of landmark status is to allow for a citadel of Islamic supremacy to be erected in its place," said Andrea Quinn, a freelance audio technician from Queens who said she worked with people at the World Trade Center.

Commissioners will decide later this summer whether to deem the proposed site an historic landmark, thus preventing the mosque from being built.

The American Center for Law and Justice is representing a New York City firefighter who survived the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The group is among those urging the commission to halt construction plans.

"This is sacred ground and for many family and friends of the 9/11 victims building an Islamic mosque on this site would be offensive," said ACLJ senior counsel Jay Sekulow. "We've heard from thousands of Americans - and many New Yorkers - who understand that such a move would be a tragic mistake."

Meanwhile, Peter King, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said he favors an investigation into funding of the proposed mosque. He says families of the 9/11 victims have a right to know where the money comes from that will be used to build the mosque.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has rejected that proposal.

"I don't think we're going to go and start investigating funding sources for religious organizations or vetting people who preach or pray in religious organizations," he said. "That just is so out of character for what this nation stands for and the way we conduct ourselves."

ACLJ Deputy Political Director Sam Nunberg told commissioners at Tuesday's hearing that removing the building currently at the site "would be like removing the sunken ships from Pearl Harbor in order to erect a memorial for the Japanese Kamikazes killed in the surprise attack of U.S. troops."

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