Vote Endorses Muslim Center Near Ground Zero, By JAVIER C. HERNANDEZ

After a raucous hearing, a Manhattan community board backed a proposal on Tuesday evening to build a Muslim community center near the World Trade Center.

The 29-to-1 vote, with 10 abstentions, followed a four-hour back-and-forth between those who said the community center would be a monument to tolerance and those who believed it would be an affront to victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The board’s vote was advisory — it did not have the power to scrap plans for a center — but it was seen as an important barometer of community sentiment.

Middle school students and rabbis were among the more than 100 people who testified at the hearing, which was held a short distance from ground zero. Some carried pictures of family members killed in the attacks; others brandished signs reading “Show respect for 9/11. No mosque!”

C. Lee Hanson, 77, whose son Peter was killed in the attacks, said he opposed the center not because he was intolerant, but because he believed that building a tribute to Islam so close to the World Trade Center would be insensitive.

“The pain never goes away,” Mr. Hanson said. “When I look over there and I see a mosque, it’s going to hurt. Build it someplace else.”

Jean Grillo, 65, a writer from TriBeCa, said shutting out any faith undermined American values. “What better place to teach tolerance than at the very area where hate tried to kill tolerance?” she said.

The proposed center, called the Cordoba House, would rise as many as 15 stories two blocks north of where the twin towers stood. It would include a prayer space, as well as a 500-seat performing arts center, a culinary school, a swimming pool, a restaurant and other amenities.

The group behind the project, the Cordoba Initiative, is seeking to make major structural changes to the five-story building at 45 Park Place, which was built in the late 1850s in the Italian Renaissance palazzo style.

The group needs the approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which could decide as early as July if the building merits historic protection.

In addition, the center faces intense opposition in the United States and abroad. Over the past few days, Community Board No. 1, which represents Lower Manhattan, was flooded with hundreds of calls and e-mail messages about the proposal, most of them from outside New York, according to Julie Menin, the board’s chairwoman.

Some of the board members who abstained said they wanted time to learn more about the Cordoba Initiative, but the board rejected a motion to delay the vote a month.

The days leading up to the vote were marked by a feverish exchange of words, culminating in remarks about Muslims from a leader of the Tea Party, Mark Williams, that were widely dismissed as racist.

But Mr. Williams was not the only critic. Many families of Sept. 11 victims fervently opposed the proposal, saying they were offended by the idea of building a prayer space so near the site.

“That should be a serene site,” Bill Doyle, a leader of a group of 9/11 families, said in a telephone interview. “Now you’re going to see protests and demonstrations there all the time.”

City officials, including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn; and the Manhattan borough president, Scott M. Stringer, have rallied behind the proposal.

The City Council has the power to overturn decisions on landmarks, but Ms. Quinn pledged on Tuesday to help shepherd the center to completion.

“I’m very confident we could find a way for both the landmark concept and the development of the mosque to move forward,” she said.

The center is estimated to cost $100 million, but exactly how the Cordoba Initiative will finance the project remains unclear.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who has led services in TriBeCa since 1983, told the board the center would help “bridge and heal a divide” among Muslims and other religious groups.

“We have condemned the actions of 9/11,” he said. “We have condemned terrorism in the most unequivocal terms.”

The center is expected to create more than 150 full-time and 500 part-time jobs, and it would offer a range of cultural events, modeled on the 92nd Street Y.

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