New York, Aug 16: Indian-Americans are divided over the issue of the 'Ground Zero Mosque' to be constructed near the site of the fallen World Trade Centre twin towers.
"9/11 was a terrorist attack, not an attack by Muslims," said Shivang Naik, a 25-year-old advertising consultant from Texas who is based in New York. "I don't see why it shouldn't be constructed."
Groups opposing the mosque assert building the mosque close to Ground Zero is inappropriate since the terrorist attack was carried out by radical Muslims.
The main proponent of the mosque, Kuwaiti-born Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, stressed that Cordoba House will be a "centre for all New Yorkers" and "its purpose is to interweave America's Muslim population into the mainstream society", he said.
"Rauf is a progressive leader," said Najma Sultana, a prominent Indian Muslim activist in NYC.
"The mosque in that location will lead to many racial issues... Americans are so overly-conscious about this that it wouldn't be safe," said Pooja Patel, a 26-year-old student who is studying finance in New Jersey.
While hosting Iftar on Friday, Aug 13 President Barack Obama said that freedom of religion was written in the US constitution and that Muslims had the right to build the mosque.
"Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country," he said. "This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable."
Despite the legal and constitutional backing, the nation remains divided.
"Indians are not afraid of Muslims or Islam... But building a mosque there will be a security threat, they should open it somewhere else," Parag Patel, a 28-year-old computer science student in New York, explained his reasons for being wary about the mosque .