A community board in New York has voted to support a proposal to build a mosque in a building just a short walk away from "ground zero," the site of the devastating terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.
After hours of contentious debate on Tuesday, the board voted 29-1 in favor of the proposal, with 10 members abstaining.
Critics of the plan say it is disrespectful to the victims of the attack to build a Muslim religious space so close to a site destroyed by Islamist extremists.
But supporters, including the Manhattan borough president, say it is important to show tolerance for all religious groups and that the space will encourage a moderate interpretation of Islam very different from the extremist views behind the attack.
The board's vote is only a recommendation, but is being seen as an indicator of community opinion.
The organization wishing to build the mosque must also obtain approval from the Landmarks Preservation committee, because the building it has bought and intends to modify was built in the 1850s and is under consideration to be classified as a "historic landmark."
The mosque will include a prayer hall as well as space for community activities.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.