Sarah Palin's inflammatory tweets calling on New Yorkers to "refudiate" a planned mosque near the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has made her both a satirical target and a thorn in the side of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The former Alaska governor took to Twitter Sunday to oppose the city's plans for the mosque, already a source of heated debate in New York.
After Palin tweeted "peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is unnecessary provocation; it stabs hearts," Bloomberg shot back.
"Sarah Palin has a right to her opinions, but I could not disagree more. "Everything the United States stands for and New York stands for is tolerance and openness."
Daisy Khan, a spokesperson for the community center that will include the mosque, said Palin's stance "raises the very question of what is at the heart of all this furor and that is ignorance."
"I'm saying that she needs to educate herself about who the Muslim community is," she said.
As New Yorkers reacted to Palin's tweets, others across the country pounced on her not-quite dictionary-endorsed language.
Though Palin deleted the original tweet containing "refudiate" (instead of repudiate) and later made a joke of it, saying Shakespeare often made up words, her use of the non-word has made her the butt of jokes across the Internet. She used the same word on a July 12 Fox News segment.
The satirical Web site Gawker is even advertising T-shirts with the slogan, "Sarah Palin Refudiates This T-Shirt."
In another Twitter message, she wrote, "Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real."
The proposed 13-story, $100 million project has touched off an enormous controversy in New York City.
Relatives of 9/11 victims say it would amount to a monument for terrorists. But the project's sponsors maintain the center would be all about bringing New Yorkers together, not tearing the community apart.
The American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative, an organization seeking to improve relations between Islam and the West, has said it envisions the center operating like a YMCA, or the Jewish Community Center on Manhattan's upper West Side.
It would include a gym, swimming pool and performing space that could be used by anyone, as well as a mosque that could be used by Muslims who live or work in lower Manhattan.
The building housed a Burlington Coat Factory until 9/11, when a landing-gear part from one of the planes involved in the World Trade Center attacks smashed through the roof. It is currently used by Muslims every Friday for prayer service.
In addition to Bloomberg, a Republican-turned-independent, several other community and political leaders have backed the mosque including Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who is the favorite for governor.
They say the project would send a powerful symbol of tolerance and religious freedom to the outside world.
But Rep. Peter King, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, and former Rep. Rick Lazio, a Republican running for New York governor, have raised questions about the proposal and called for an investigation of how the project would be financed.
"It's a house of worship, but we are at war with al Qaeda," King told The Associated Press. "I think the 9/11 families have a right to know where the funding comes from; I think there are significant questions."
The New York City community board for the World Trade Center neighborhood has backed the project. Opponents are trying to kill the plan by convincing the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to grant landmark status to the building that would house the center.