A Saudi prince who has assisted the imam leading efforts to open an Islamic centre near New York's Ground Zero is appealing for a move to another site not associated with the "wound" of the 11 September attacks.
In interview excerpts published by the Dubai-based Arabian Business magazine, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was quoted as saying that moving the planned mosque and other facilities would respect the memory of those killed in the 2001 attacks and allow American Muslims to choose a more suitable location.
The comments are reportedly the Prince's first public views on the dispute, which has stirred street protests and fiery debates between religious and political leaders about America's freedom of worship set against the lingering anger over the 9/11 attacks.
Prince Alwaleed's Kingdom Foundation has contributed to the group run by New York's Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, but said he has given no funds to the planned centre.
Prince Alwaleed urged the backers of the Islamic centre not to "agitate the wound by saying, 'We need to put the mosque next to the 9/11 site.' "
"Those people behind the mosque have to respect, have to appreciate and have to defer to the people of New York," the Prince was quoted as saying by the magazine, which said the full interview will be published on Sunday.