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Paterson seeks to broker relocation of NYC mosque

By Jason Horowitz
NEW YORK -- New York Gov. David Paterson (D) plans to meet later this week with the Islamic prayer leader and the developer of a planned mosque near Ground Zero to discuss the possibility of moving it to an alternate site, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said Tuesday.
King said he was informed of Paterson's plan in a telephone conversation with the governor Tuesday morning.

Last week, Paterson offered state assistance if the mosque's developers would agree to move the project farther from the site -- an idea they rejected. Paterson said that, while he had "no objection" to the project as planned, he was "very sensitive to the desire of those who are adamant against it to see something else worked out."

"I think it's rather clear that building a center there meets all the requirements, but it does seem to ignite an immense amount of anxiety among the citizens of New York and people everywhere, and I think not without cause," Paterson said at an Aug. 10 news conference in Manhattan, according to published reports. He noted that "we really are still suffering in many respects" from the Sept. 11 attacks.

The developer rejected the offer. "While we have a tremendous amount of respect for our governor... this has always been about serving Lower Manhattan," mosque developer Sharif El-Gamal said, according to reports.

The location of the planned Islamic center two blocks from Ground Zero has burgeoned into a political controversy that has begun to roil election campaigns ahead of the November midterm elections.

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