Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed has said he is against the construction of a mosque close to the site of the 9/11 terror attacks in New York. In an exclusive interview with Arabian Business to be published on Sunday, His Royal Highness also said he had no part in financing the controversial project.
In his first public comments on the issue, he said: “I heard and saw a lot of news about me being associated with it and this is all wrong. We did not finance this thing.
“I say that I am against putting the mosque in that particular place. And I’ll tell you why. For two reasons: first of all, those people behind the mosque have to respect, have to appreciate and have to defer to the people of New York, and not try to agitate the wound by saying 'we need to put the mosque next to the 9/11 site'.
"The wound is still there. Just because the wound is healing you can’t say 'let’s just go back to where we were pre-9/11'," he said. “I am against putting the mosque there out of respect for those people who have been wounded over there.”
Prince Alwaleed added: “More importantly, the mosque is not in the best location, the mosque has to be in a dignified location. It can’t be next to a bar or a strip club, or in a neighbourhood that is not really refined and good. The impression I have is that this mosque is just being inserted and squeezed over there. So I am personally against putting the mosque over there…"
"I believe that Christians have the right to build churches where they want and Jews have the right to put synagogues where they want and Muslims have the right to put a mosque where they want. But you have to take care and respect the dignity of those New Yorkers who have been hit badly. Ten years ago is nothing when you talk about history.”
Several US news organizations claimed earlier this month that the prince had been involved in funding the construction of the mosque.
In the interview, the prince argued that the wounds of the twin terror attacks could take up to 30 years to heal. He said: “For sure, the wounds are so deep. What I’m saying is, it’s been a decade right now, and I would evaluate things at being at a standstill. They did not improve dramatically but they didn’t worsen. You see pockets of deterioration from people who don’t want things to advance,” he said.
“I don’t want to exaggerate and say things are falling apart, they are not. Most governments are pragmatic, most people are logical. There are pockets of extremism in Israel, in the US and in the Muslim world. But we have to fight them with reason, with logic and with compassion. We can’t just say ‘go to hell,’ we cannot do that.”
*The full interview with HRH will be published at 8am UAE time on Sunday 31 October on www.arabianbusiness.com. The following day, 1 November, Arabian Business will also publish the first magazine interview with his wife, HH Princess Ameerah Al Taweel