New York’s Muslims are divided when it comes to a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero, said one of the city’s most prominent Muslim religious leaders.


“Muslims are very diverse,” said Shamsi Ali, imam of the 96th Street mosque. “When it comes up, there are a variety of opinions: Some Muslims are for it, some Muslims don’t care. Some are saying it is enflaming the sentiment and anger of the people and that’s why we’re still having problems after Sept. 11th.”


More than 60 percent of New Yorkers oppose the mosque, according to polls.
After a weekend summit, national and local Muslim leaders are to hold a press conference this morning outside Park51, the proposed Islamic community center.


Ali, who supports the mosque, said he would be surprised if the leaders give a united statement of support for Park51. He thinks they will speak out against a rise in Islamophobia.


“Certainly Muslims feel Islamophobia is growing,” said Ali. “Some propose it’s because of the Islamic center by Ground Zero; other people say it’s because elections are coming up.”

“Two years ago it wasn’t on the surface, and now it is,” said Hesham El-Meligy, a Staten Island Muslim.