Daisy Khan, who with her husband, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, wants to build an Islamic cultural center and prayer space near ground zero, says she knows nothing of the king of Saudi Arabia’s alleged interest in moving the controversial project farther uptown as part of plan to reopen a bankrupt hospital.
“We’re just as puzzled as you are!” she tells More with a laugh. “We’ve not spoken to anyone, we don’t know where this is coming from.”
Khan, who is profiled in More’s February 2011 issue (on sale January 25), is referring to a December 19 New York Post story claiming that King Abdullah might “want to buy the shuttered St. Vincent’s Medical Center” in New York’s West Village, reopen much of the hospital and “transfer the mosque to a new Islamic cultural center he would build on the plot at the site.”
“It’s hard to comment when you don’t know where reports are coming from,” Khan says. When asked if the West 12th street site would change the meaning of the center Khan and her husband hope to erect near ground zero, she says that while “the vision of the center as a place to create tolerance and understanding and peace would be the same no matter where it is,” her preference is the original location. “We want to stay in Lower Manhattan. The proximity of being in the neighborhood where such a great tragedy happened is a great place to bring about healing and create a countermomentum against the extremists,” she says. “We want to heal, to create tolerance. So the location becomes meaningful.”
UPDATE: On December 20 the kingdom of Saudi Arabia told the Wall Street Journal via e-mail from its Washington embassy that it "has no involvement, either directly or indirectly," with the project, "nor is it involved—in any way—in talks that may be taking place to relocate the proposed community center."