Sheldon Silver: Move “Ground Zero Mosque” for Sake of Peace

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver made his strongest comments to date about the placement of the so-called "Ground Zero mosque" today after a press conference on education funds.

Following the news conference on federal "Race to the Top"' grants with the governor, Silver said that while the developers of the Park51 Islamic Center had the legal right to build only two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center, they should seriously reconsider.

"The sponsor should take into very serious consideration the type of turmoil that's been created... and find a suitable place that doesn't create the kind of controversy this does," said Silver.

"I believe that they have a right to build a house of worship," said Silver, adding, "what I am suggestion is that that in the spirit of living with others, they should try to find a location that doesn't engender the deep feelings that currently exist about this site."

Governor Paterson, who was standing with Silver and met later with Archbishop Timothy Dolan, then noted, "the reality is they don't have to move, constitutionally they've passed all of the government procedures.. they have every right to stay there."

But he continued, "there is obviously something different here than if a mosque were being placed anywhere else -- if this was anywhere else, in my opinion there wouldn't be a discussion."

Interestingly, Silver noted that while the Islamic cultural center planned for 51 Park Place is often referred to as the "Ground Zero mosque," it's not in his his downtown assembly district.

"Ground Zero is my district," said Silver, "not the mosque."

Meanwhile, after meeting with Governor Paterson at his midtown offices today, New York Archbishop Dolan emerged to say that neither he nor the governor has any concrete proposal to make progress in resolving the situation.

"We're just a little bit concerned, both of us, that values are at risk in the tenor of this debate. What we do not need are protesters but promoters of dialogue," said the Archbishop.

"We've got two goods here, on the one hand, the faithful and religious good people looking to celebrate that faith, and on the other, those who have sustained such a tragic loss on sept. 11th," said Dolan. "I'd say to those people, 'lets keep this dignified.'"

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