In interview excerpts published by the Dubai-based Arabian Business magazine, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was quoted as saying that moving the planned mosque, health club and cultural center would respect the memory of those killed in the 2001 attacks and allow American Muslims to choose a more suitable location.
The comments are reportedly the prince’s first public views on the dispute, which has stirred street protests and fiery debates between religious and political leaders over America’s freedom of worship versus the lingering anger over the 9/11 attacks.
Imam Rauf said in a written statement that the project would go forward as planned. “While we respect the points of view of other interested observers, we plan to build the community center in this location because we have been part of Lower Manhattan for decades and we want to better serve the needs of our neighbors of all faith traditions,” he said.
Prince Alwaleed’s Kingdom Foundation has contributed to the group run by New York’s Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, but said he has given no funds to the planned center.