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Protests over mosque as US marks 9/11 anniv
New York, Sept 12 (Agencies):
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Published on 12 Sep. 2010 11:22 PM IST
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Protesters in New York marked the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks with noisy demonstrations over a proposed mosque near the ground zero site.
Rival rallies took place in the streets around the site of the World Trade Centre as family members of those who died in the attacks recited the names of loved ones in memorial ceremonies.
The so-called ‘ground zero mosque’ - a 13-storey Islamic centre - has become a symbol of growing tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims in the US.
There was no sign of Pastor Terry Jones, the Florida preacher who attracted international condemnation for his plan to burn copies of the Koran, even though he had travelled to New York.
But among those addressing a rally against the mosque was the controversial Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders. American politicians also spoke to the crowds.
The protests were generally good-natured, one banner read “Burn Calories Not Books”, and a large police presence was determined to keep them apart.
Despite some heated exchanges, it seems there was little appetite for confrontation among protesters on a day which has become a symbolic moment of mourning in the United States.
A group called the Raging Grannies took part in the rally supporting the mosque at New York’s City Hall.
Lilian Pollock told Sky News: “I am 87 years old and I came here today to show my support because we should all live together.”
Elizabeth Meehan, who travelled 180 miles by bus to take part, said: “I’m really fearful of all of the hate that’s going on in our country.
“People in one brand of Christianity are coming out against other faiths, and I find that so sad.
“Muslims are fellow Americans; they should have the right to worship in America just like anyone else.” At the anti-mosque rally nearby, some people wore stars and stripes clothing and carried messages such as “It stops here” and “Never forgive, never forget, no WTC mosque.”
One of them, Theresa Angelo, said: “My grandparents didn’t expect special treatment.
“They didn’t fly planes into buildings. No other culture does that.
“This is hallowed ground. It’s something like Gettysburg or Pearl Harbour. Why did they have to do it here? Be a little sensitive.” Some family members of those who died on 9/11 have spoken out against the anniversary being used by protest groups.
And President Obama, speaking at the Pentagon, again tried to cool the temperature of inter-faith rhetoric by stressing that America is not at war with Islam.
‘Home-grown terror
now threatens US’
WASHINGTON, SEPT 12 (Reuters): Nine years after the September 11 attacks, the United States faces a growing threat from home-grown insurgents and an “Americanization” of al-Qaida leadership, according to a report released on Friday. Former heads of the 9/11 Commission that studied the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington presented the 43-page study, calling it a wake-up call about the radicalization of Muslims in the United States and the changing strategy of al-Qaida and its allies.
“The threat that the US is facing is different than it was nine years ago,” said the report, released by the Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center. “The US is arguably now little different from Europe in terms of having a domestic terrorist problem involving immigrant and indigenous Muslims as well as converts to Islam.”
The report comes at a sensitive time for the United States. In the past few days, passions simmered over a Florida Christian preacher’s threat to burn copies of the Quran, and plans to build a mosque near the Ground Zero site in New York. US officials warn such cases could lead to a recruiting bonanza for al-Qaida.
The report said al-Qaida and its affiliates in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen had minimally established an “embryonic” recruitment infrastructure in the United States.
It pointed to convictions last year of 43 US citizens or residents aligned with militant ideology. The report also stated that Americans were increasingly forming part of leadership of al-Qaida and its allies. The report highlighted the increased risk of small-scale attacks on hard-to-protect US targets.

 
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