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24 Aug, 2010 17:06

New Yorkers fight for jobs, nation battles over NYC mosque

The proposed development of a NYC Islamic Cultural Center two blocks from Ground Zero has fueled a heated debate. But, who is paying attention to crippling economic issues like joblessness and homelessness?

If there had to be a dirty word this summer that word would arguably be Mosque. Hundreds turned out in lower Manhattan on August 22, as dueling demonstrations pitted Mosque opponents against supporters.

In a country that prides itself on religious tolerance, Americans like Joyce Aries say Muslims shouldn't be praying in the shadows of the World Trade Center site.

We have them all over long island. We have them all over the United States. Put it somewhere else,” said Aries.

Retired police officer Michael Fandal believes the Islamic Cultural Center would be a monument to the September 11th terrorists,

The nineteen extremist are the tip of the iceberg. There is a whole industry behind the destruction of western civilization,” he said.

Just one block away, Mosque supporters, like Matt Sky, rallied for religious freedom.

"A lot of politicians have demonized the Muslim community and we’re here to say no to that," Sky said.

With midterm elections approaching, Sky says it's no coincidence that the New York issue has been politicized around the nation.

Sky added, "We’re in tough economic times and when people are in tough economic times, people turn to desperate measures to gain power.”

The proposed development of a New York City Islamic Cultural Center two blocks from Ground Zero has fueled heated debates throughout the nation, leaving little discussing about crippling economic issues like joblessness, homelessness and home foreclosures.

Inside New York City's largest Department of Labor Office, you'll find unemployed Americans like Valerie Ferguson, fighting to keep food on the table.

"You’re talking about a mosque and there is no home for people. Still people living on the street,” she said.

Homelessness in New York City is at a staggering high, nearly ten percent of the country is out of a job, and 1.9 million homes are expected to be foreclosed on this year.

Unemployed New Yorker Edna Norman said angry crowds should be flooding the streets to demand improved economic conditions.

There are bigger things, tike this unemployment, here in New York; everywhere,” she said.

Although times are hard, some among the employed are refusing to work.

Constructions workers opposing the proposed mosque near Ground Zero signed a "hard hat pledge" vowing not to build the Islamic Cultural Center if it is to rise.