Islamic center organizers talking with 9/11 families

New York State Governor David Paterson holds a New York State Governor David Paterson holds a town hall meeting in downtown Brooklyn. (March 8, 2010) Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

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Organizers of the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero said they want to "do the right thing" and are talking to as many people as they can, including 9/11 families, a spokeswoman said Friday.

Daisy Khan, the wife of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, said the center proponents were hoping to meet with Gov. David A. Paterson and others after Rauf's returns from a Department of State-sponsored trip abroad in early September.

"We are in a continuing dialogue with 9/11 families," Khan told Newsday.

Khan said no meeting date had been scheduled as earlier reported because of her husband's overseas trip.

Asked if the center organizers were considering a move to a location that didn't raise public opposition, Khan was careful in her answer.

"Once we take counsel with as many people as we can, we will arrive at the right decision," she said.

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During a Friday radio interview, Paterson said that the situation surrounding the plan to build the center on Park Place two blocks from Ground Zero was "getting more and more out of hand every day."

"So my suggestion was that one of those solutions might be to find an area that's in lower Manhattan that serves the catchment area of the Muslim community . . . and at the same time would not be so close to Ground Zero that it seems to offend many people that live there and many people that don't," said Paterson on WNYC's program "The Takeaway."

Paterson said a meeting had been set for last Monday but Rauf's trip overseas on behalf of the State Department put it on hold.

"There will only be a meeting if the people from the mosque agree to meet with us, we are not pressuring them or coercing them, we just are asking them based on what happened on 9/11 that we get an opportunity to dialogue," the governor said.

He also derided a suggestion the state could solve the problem of opposition to the Islamic center by seizing the property under eminent domain laws.

"Maybe we could do that if we were in Bosnia, but this is the USA," Paterson said. "Eminent domain is a process of condemning land. You don't condemn land because you don't like the way people are using it."

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