Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel has called for the leaders of the Ground Zero mosque project to build an interfaith center instead, saying that the original plan would “hurt some people.”
"Let's turn it around — let's do it together. Jews, Christians and Muslims together will create this place, a center for interfaith, but sponsored together, financed together, worked out programs tighter, and show a symbol of solidarity, of religious solidarity," said Wiesel during a speech on Oct. 6. "It can become a very great symbol here — a great monument for humanity."
The “Night” author and Nobel Laureate said that the imam spearheading the mosque project, Feisal Abdul Rauf, has good intentions, but that his plan would "hurt some people who have suffered."
Senior Advisor to President Obama, David Axelrod, who was also speaking at the same event, agreed with the Wiesel's suggestion. "That sounds like a wonderful idea," said Axelrod, adding that it "gives me hope."
The plan to build a mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero has drawn controversy over the past few months. Critics of the proposal say that it is needlessly provocative and disrespectful to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The mosque issue gained national attention in August, after President Obama appeared to come out in support of the project at Ground Zero. Later the president backed away slightly from his earlier comments, saying that Rauf has a legal “right” to build the mosque, but not saying whether he approved of the location.
The media coverage of the Ground Zero mosque has been largely positive, even though the proposal is viewed negatively by a majority of Americans. The New York Times has written numerous supportive articles about the mosque, even hiring a reporter to cover it who was previously attended a media training course run by one of Rauf's organizations. In August, the Associated Press issued an advisory memo to its reporters asking them stop using the phrase “Ground Zero mosque.”