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Saudi Prince Puts Support Behind Moving Planned Ground Zero Mosque

Saudi prince backs moving planned NYC mosqueEds: Adds background, quotes.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - A Saudi prince who has aidedthe imam spearheading a proposed Islamic center near New York'sground zero is appealing for another site not associated with the"wound" of the Sept. 11 attacks, a report said Thursday.

In interview excerpts published by the Dubai-based ArabianBusiness magazine, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was quoted as sayingthat moving the planned mosque and other facilities would respectthe memory of those killed in the 2001 attacks and allow AmericanMuslims to choose a more suitable location.

The comments are reportedly the prince's first public views onthe dispute, which has stirred street protests and fiery debatesbetween religious and political leaders over America's freedom ofworship versus the lingering anger over the 9/11 attacks.

Prince Alwaleed's Kingdom Foundation has contributed to thegroup run by New York's Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, but said he hasgiven no funds to the planned center.

Prince Alwaleed urged the backers of the proposed Islamic centernot to "agitate the wound by saying, 'We need to put the mosquenext to the 9/11 site."'

"Those people behind the mosque have to respect, have toappreciate and have to defer to the people of New York," theprince was quoted as saying by the magazine, which said the fullinterview will be published Sunday. "The wound is still there.Just because the wound is healing you can't say, 'Let's just goback to where we were pre-9/11."'

Prince Alwaleed, who chairs a Saudi investment company that hasmajor stakes in international giants News Corp. and Citigroup, alsosaid Muslims in New York should consider a more "dignified"location than the proposed site in lower Manhattan.

"It can't be next to a bar or a strip club, or in aneighborhood that is not really refined and good. The impression Ihave is that this mosque is just being inserted and squeezed overthere," he said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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