Tensions are rising in America as the building of a mosque near ground Zero approaches...
Hundreds of people on both sides of the controversy over a proposed mosque and community center near Ground Zero rallied near the site to make their feelings known.
A crowd of demonstrators against the project stood behind police barricades three blocks from the World Trade Center site and around the corner from where the mosque and cultural center would be.
Brooklyn plumber Steve Ayling says the people who want to build the project are the same ones who 'took down the twin towers.'
Nearby, several hundred people who support the mosque chanted 'Muslims are welcome here. We say no to racist fear.'
The proposed £70million mosque has ignighted furious debate.
The growing movement against the building of the mosque gained another prominent supporter last week: the first Muslim Miss USA.
Meanwhile growing number of New York construction workers are vowing not to work on the mosque planned near Ground Zero, according to the New York Daily News.
'It's a very touchy thing because they want to do this on sacred ground,' said Dave Kaiser, 38, a blaster who is working to rebuild the World Trade Center site.
The grass-roots movement is gaining momentum on the Internet, says the Daily News. One construction worker created the Hard Hat Pledge on his blog and asked others to vow not to work on the project if it stays in its current location.
'Thousands of people are signing up from all over the country,' said creator Andy Sullivan, a construction worker from Brooklyn.
'People who sell glass, steel, lumber, insurance. They are all refusing to do work if they build there.
'Hopefully, this will be a tool to get them to move it,' he said. 'I got a problem with this ostentatious building looming over Ground Zero.'
L.V. Spina, a Manhattan construction worker who created anti-mosque stickers that some workers are slapping on their hardhats, told the New York Daily News he would 'rather pick cans and bottles out of trash cans' than build the Islamic center near Ground Zero.
The leader of the proposed Islamic centre and mosque says dropping the plan in the face of protest is not an option.
Daisy Khan says she and other organisers of the center are closely consulting with American Muslim leaders as the plan moves forward. Khan says she realises the uproar is affecting Muslims nationwide.
The project has created a national debate over religious tolerance and the Sept. 11 attacks.
Khan said yesterday she's under no pressure to change locations from the political leaders who previously expressed support.
Khan and her husband, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, say the centre will promote moderate Islam. Critics say the location is insensitive to 9/11 families.
New York Governor David Paterson says no meeting to discuss relocating has been scheduled with developers.
Paterson told WNYC Radio's The Take Away last night that he's still seeking a meeting, but the discussion he'd hoped to have this week won't happen.
Paterson had said this week that he had hoped to meet with developers in a couple of days to talk about the concerns of those still hurt and angry over the 9/11 attacks.
He says the group postponed a Monday meeting because its imam leader was travelling.
Paterson has also offered to provide state assistance for any relocation.
Up to one in four people, or 24 per cent, said they think Mr Obama, whose middle name is Hussein, is a Muslim after he announced his support for a the building of a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks.
The Time poll released last week also revealed that more than 70 per cent of those questioned believed that to build the mosque would insult the memory of victims.
The poll emerged as the mosque developers refused to rule out accepting funding for the plan from Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Mr Obama said he has 'no regrets' over the comments he made about the right of Muslims to build an Islamic centre near Ground Zero.
Mr Obama sparked outrage from Republicans and the families of 9/11 victims after supporting the right of developers to build the mosque.
He inserted himself into the debate over the mosque last week when he said Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in the U.S.
A day later, he told reporters that he wasn't endorsing the specifics of the mosque plan.
According to the Siena Research Institute poll, 63 per cent of New Yorkers polled were against its construction and just 27 per cent were for it. But in the same poll a similar margin - 64-to-28 per cent - said the developers had the constitutional right to built it.
The mosque, previously called Cordoba House but now known as Park51, will be a 13-storey Muslim community centre costing £70million which will include a swimming pool, gym, theatre and sports facilities.
Construction is due to begin on September 11 next year - the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack.