The governor of New York state plans to meet with developers about moving a proposed Muslim cultural center and mosque away from the site of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City.
Aides to Governor David Paterson said Tuesday he expects a meeting with the developers and the imam who wants to build the mosque in the near future.
Paterson spoke about the meeting earlier Tuesday with New York Republican Representative Peter King, who opposes building the mosque near the site known as "Ground Zero."
President Barack Obama has said he supports the right of Muslims to practice their religion as everyone else in this country, including the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property near the site. He later said he would not comment on the "wisdom" of doing so.
Meanwhile, a Muslim-American group warned Tuesday of what it called a "growing pattern" of opposition to mosque construction across the country.
Mahdi Bray, director of the group called the Muslim American Society Freedom, said plans to build mosques have been opposed or denied in other parts of New York City, as well as in the states of Alabama, California, Florida, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
The U.S. Senate's top Democrat, Harry Reid, said late Monday he thinks it is "very obvious" the proposed "Ground Zero" mosque should be built someplace else. Reid is in a close race for re-election this November.
Republicans have sharply criticized the planned construction of the center. Senator John Cornyn says it is "unwise" to build a mosque near the site where more than 2,600 people were killed. He described President Obama as "disconnected from the mainstream of America" for what Cornyn said is the president's support of the center's construction.
Opinion polls by CNN/Opinion Research indicate that 68 percent of Americans oppose building a mosque less than one kilometer from the site where al-Qaida hijackers crashed two passenger planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
Opponents say putting a mosque so close to the site would be disrespectful to those killed. But supporters of the project say it will help bridge divisions between the West and the Muslim world, and they note that the attacks were carried out by terrorists who do not represent Islam.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it would be a "sad day for America" if opponents block plans for the mosque.
The prayer room would be part of a $100 million Islamic center featuring a 500-seat auditorium, sports facilities, theater and restaurant, and would be open to all visitors.
The governor of New York has already offered the developers state assistance if they build the center at a different location, but the offer was rejected.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.