NYC

WTC Construction Workers Protest 'Ground Zero Mosque' With Hard Hats, Vests

08/19/2010 10:01 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

DOWNTOWN -- Construction workers at the World Trade Center are wearing their opposition to a nearby mosque and community center on their hard hats, and several said they would refuse to build the proposed facility.

The round stickers seen on many workers at Ground Zero -- two blocks from the proposed Park51 project -- feature the words "Mosque @ Ground Zero" crossed out in red. Workers said dozens of others had them as well.

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William McCabe, 31, who lost an uncle on 9/11, used black marker to scrawl "WTC No Mosque" on the back of his neon construction vest in protest.

"It's like spitting in the face of all the people that died," said McCabe, who lives in Queens and has been working on Tower One for about five months. "What they're going to be doing [inside the center] is praying and laughing because they got the mosque.

"My uncle's turning in his grave. It's a disgrace."

Park51 organizers this week reiterated that they are "moving ahead with current plans" despite the opposition and an idea floated by Gov. David Paterson to move the center elsewhere.

Mark Sabay, 48, of Brooklyn, who has been working on the site for two year, said a co-worker handed him a sticker three days ago. He immediately affixed it to his hardhat.

Sabay said that building the mosque so close to Ground Zero is "a smack in the face to Americans."

Many workers also said they will refuse to work on the mosque's construction if they are ever assigned to the site at 51 Park Place.

"It's disrespectful," said Ray Wooley, 40, who lives on Long Island and said he has been working at Ground Zero on-and-off for the past 8 years.

Even with the economy slow and so few jobs out there, he said, "I wouldn't work there."

But two blocks away, supporters of the center scrawled chalk messages affirming Park51's right to exist and gathered Wednesday to wave signs defending the plan.

"People fear what they can't understand" and "I thouht (sic), this was America," read the chalk messages written in multicolored chalk.

"No matter how we pray, we pray to the same God," one message read.

Jim Wood, 40, who lives next door to the Park51 site, said he is a strong supporter of the mosque, but worries what will happen once construction begins.

"I'm actually more fearful of the people outside of it than the people who will be in," he said. "I think it's time to move."

Borough President Scott Stringer hosted a dinner in Harlem with members of the city's Muslim community to celebrate Ramadan Tuesday night. He defended the Park 51 project.

"I speak to you not just as a Manhattan Borough President or political leader, but as a member of the Jewish faith, and I have seen people suffer because of what religion they choose to believe in," Stringer said. "We cannot let discrimination happen again, certainly not in this town."

Aizzah Fatima, 33, of the Upper East Side, agreed.

"It's not just a mosque. It's an Islamic Center. Where you can bring faiths together," Fatima said. "Anytime you can get a dialogue going, it's great."

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