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'Ground Zero Mosque' Islamic Community Centre Could Be Demolished For Larger Structure

09/04/2014 19:14 BST | Updated 09/04/2014 19:59 BST
Chris Hondros via Getty Images
NEW YORK - AUGUST 17: (1 of 15) The buildings that are poised to become the Park51 mosque and cultural center are seen August 17, 2010 in New York City. The site for the $100 million Islamic community center is two blocks from where the World Trade Center stood before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the proposal has ignited controversy. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

NEW YORK -- The so called "Ground Zero Mosque", an Islamic community centre close to site of the 9/11 attacks in lower Manhattan, could be demolished according to new plans submitted by a New York property developer.

The current Park 51 community centre was opened in 2011, despite protracted protests from opponents who claimed the location of the building was insensitive to the 3,000 victims that perished in the Twin Towers, and that the site could become a shrine to Islamic extremists.

On Tuesday the city’s Department of Buildings said they had received an application to raze the existing four-storey building, as well as a neighbouring structure, with the space likely to give way to a single, much larger building.

Sharif El-Gamal, the owner of Soho Properties that submitted the plans, has stated in the past his desire to build a 13-storey Islamic community centre on the site, however speaking to Reuters a spokesperson for developer refused to confirm whether that remained the case.

The opening of the Islamic community centre in 2011 sparked fervent opposition, particularly from across America's political right, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich calling the organizers of the "Mosque" "radical Islamists" seeking "supremacy" and likening the situation to Nazis putting up signs near the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.

Sarah Palin was equally critical, tweeting: "Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real."