American Muslims who support the proposed mosque and Islamic center near ground zero are facing skeptics within their own faith - those who argue that the project is insensitive to Sept. 11 victims and needlessly provocative at a time when Muslims are pressing for wider acceptance in the U.S.
"For most Americans, 9/11 remains as an open wound, and anything associated with Islam, even for Americans who want to understand Islam - to have an Islamic center with so much publicity is like rubbing salt in open wounds," said Akbar Ahmed, professor of Islamic studies at American University, a former Pakistani ambassador to Britain and author of "Journey Into America, The Challenge of Islam." He said the space should include a synagogue and a church so it will truly be interfaith.
Abdul Cader Asmal, past president of the Islamic Council of New England, an umbrella group for more than 15 Islamic centers, said some opponents of the $100 million, 13-story project are indeed anti-Muslim. But he said many Americans have genuine, understandable questions about Islam and extremism.