July 19, 2010— -- Sarah Palin plunged into the raging debate over a proposed Islamic community center and mosque two blocks from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, saying in series of posts on Twitter that the project should not be built.
"Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand. Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in the interest of healing," the former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate tweeted on Sunday.
In another 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."
Palin's tweets themselves became the subject of headlines as she stumbled through an initial tweet, urging New Yorkers to "refudiate" the mosque project.
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 Mahattan.
In a written statement Sunday night, a spokeswoman for the project, Daisy Khan, said, "We agree with Ms. Palin that it is time to heal from the wounds of the tragic events of 9/11. We peace- loving Muslims have a responsibility to lead the effort of rebuilding Lower Manhattan. We envision a community center for multi-faith collaboration that is focused on promoting integration, tolerance of difference and community cohesion."
"We welcome the opportunity to discuss with Ms. Palin how Muslim Americans have an added responsibility to create a counter-momentum against extremism by building institutions like this center, that will amplify the voices of the mainstream peace-loving Muslims," Khan said.
Sarah Palin 'Refudiates' Ground Zero Mosque
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.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican-turned-independent, has backed the mosque, as have several other community and political leaders, 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 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."
Palin denounced the project in three tweets Sunday afternoon, writing initially, "Doesn't it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate."
She later retracted that initial message, and made light of her creative use of English.
"Refudiate," "misunderestimate," "wee-wee'd up." English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!" Palin wrote.
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.