The moment an angry crowd protesting against Ground Zero mosque turns on man in a skullcap… because they think he is a Muslim
By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 7:02 PM on 23rd August 2010
This is the terrifying moment a man is verbally abused because a crowd demonstrating against plans to build a mosque near New York’s Ground Zero believe he is a Muslim.
The powerfully built black man who is wearing a type of hat similar to that worn by Muslim men is called a ‘coward’ and verbally abused by some opponents to the mosque.
Telling them that he does not practice Islam and that they ‘don’t know why I’m here’, the man – identified as a carpenter called Kenny – is eventually saved by the intervention of two men.
But that doesn’t stop one construction worker in a hard-hat, seeming spoiling for a fight, from squaring up to him.
After a series of jostles, the man is eventually asked to leave the site for his own safety and escorted away by police officers.
Yesterday’s protests drew hundreds of fever-pitch demonstrators, with opponents carrying signs associating Islam with blood, supporters shouting ‘Say no to racist fear!’ and American flags waving on both sides.
Brooklyn plumber Steve Ayling said 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 ignited furious debate.
The growing movement against the building of the mosque gained another prominent supporter last week: the first Muslim Miss USA.
Rima Fakih, 24, the daughter of Lebanese immigrants and a Muslim, criticised the location of the planned mosque.
‘It shouldn’t be so close to the World Trade Center,’ Fakih, 24, told Inside Edition during a break from the Miss Universe pageant preparations in Las Vegas.
‘We should be more concerned with the tragedy than religion.’
After wading into the highly-charged political issue, the Michigan-born Fakih then went on to support President Obama’s statement on the constitutional rights of religious freedom.
‘I totally agree with President Obama with (that) statement,’ she said.
Meanwhile a 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, reported 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.
‘But if they moved it somewhere else, we would put up a prime building for these people,’ he said.
‘Hell, you could do it next to my house, I would be fine with it. But I’m not fine with it where blood has been spilled.’
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 September 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 tenth anniversary of the terrorist attack.
Jewish groups slam American woman in charge of Ground Zero mosque for saying treatment of Muslims is ‘anti-Semitic’
The co-founder of the mosque at New York’s Ground Zero has been attacked for comparing her treatment to Jewish victims of anti-Semitism.
Daisy Khan said the reaction to the planed site two blocks from where the World Trade Center stood was beyond Islamophobia and had tipped over into outright hatred.
Miss Khan – the wife of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the driving force behind the mosque project – also claimed she was being subjected to ‘metastasised anti-Semitism’ by those who oppose their plans.
Her comments drew fire from the two leading bodies which represent Jewish people in America.
The Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee said she was wrong to make the comparison and accused her of being ‘inappropriate’.
On the day of a tense demonstration of those for and against the mosque in Lower Manhattan, Miss Khan told a U.S. talkshow: ‘This is like a metastasized anti-Semitism. That’s what we feel right now.
‘It’s not even Islamophobia, it’s beyond Islamophobia – it’s hate of Muslims. And we are deeply concerned.’
Born in Kashmir, India, she is a former interior designer in her fifties who is now the head of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, a pressure group campaigning for Muslims.
US President Barack Obama has come out in favour of the mosque but the majority of the public are against it, as are dozens of emergency responders who dealt with the aftermath of 9/11 and Rudy Giuliani, who was mayor of New York at the time.
Despite the outcry Miss Khan insisted the mosque will get built.
‘Of course, it has to go ahead,’ she said. ‘There’s so much at stake.’
She also boasted of the support she and her husband have received, saying: ‘The community board has overwhelmingly supported this. So have all the politicians – Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
‘We also have a constitutional right.’
But Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said: ‘There is no question in my mind that there are some bigots who are using the mosque as an excuse for Islamophobia. But to compare this to anti-Semitism is an inappropriate comparison.
‘Miss Khan feels very strongly and she is trying to find ways to reach out to people but she is wrong. I don’t think it warrants an apology, what she said was clumsy.’
A spokesman for the American Jewish Committee added Miss Khan’s comments were ‘not fair’ and that that it was ‘not pleased’ by what she said.