New York: Controversial Indian-origin author Salman Rushdie has spoken out in support of a mosque near Ground Zero, an issue that has sparked a religious row in US amid opinion polls suggesting that majority of Americans oppose it.
"It's just a stupid argument," Rushdie said at the Brooklyn Book Festival in New York. "Of course they should be able to build a mosque there," he was quoted as saying by the New York Post. The writer also noted that the controversy regarding the proximity of the mosque near the World Trade Centre made no sense, since the mosque was inside the World Trade Centre itself. Rushdie also spoke against the burning of Qurans, which had been planned by Florida Pastor Terry Jones. Rushdie was speaking a day after massive pro and anti-mosque rallies were staged near Ground Zero on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. Both rallies had speakers from religious groups, civil society organisations and local community leaders.
While the Muslims have the constitutional right to build a mosque in that spot, a large group of people insist that it is insensitive. Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Monday, Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, the main mosque developer, said all options were on the table, when asked if he would consider halting the project. "Our advisers have been looking at every option -- including that," Rauf as quoted as saying by the New York Post, while underlining that a solution needed to be agreed by all sides. "I need a space where the voice of the moderates can be heard. We need a platform where the voice of modern Muslims can be amplified...This is an opportunity that we must capitalise on," he added. Meanwhile, Pastor Terry Jones from Florida finally called off his plans to burn Qurans. ""Not today, not ever. We are not going to go back and do it, he told NBC's 'Today' show, just ahead of the 9/11 anniversary on Saturday. "It is totally cancelled, he said.