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9/11 anniversary brings sorrow and protest

Cyril Josh Barker | 8/31/2011, 2:32 p.m.

Opposition to the proposed mosque was strong, leading people to go to the extreme. One man was even seen with pages ripped out of the Quran, urging people to use them as toilet paper. In contrast, another group was giving away free copies of the Quran translated in English.

"Before people make any comments or actions of burning [the Quran], it's only fair to investigate it and see what it says," said Ousmane Camara, who was giving out free copies of the Quran. "After that, if it doesn't sink in, if it doesn't make sense and it's not the word of God, then do as you wish."

A rally in favor of the mosque given by the International Action Center convened on the west side of City Hall Park, united against racism, anti-immigrant bigotry and Islamophobia.

"We had at least 10,000 people," said Sara Flounders, one of the coordinators of the rally. "And the rally program--with speakers from the labor movement, immigrants' rights coalitions, and clergy from synagogues, churches and mosques--featured the dynamic diversity of almost every community in New York."

On East Broadway, a rally of thousands against the proposed mosque waved American flags and heard speeches from the right wing. Dutch politician Geert Wilders served as the keynote speaker for that rally. Wilders is best known for his anti-Islamic advocacy.

The day concluded with the "Tribute in Lights." Two beams of light, in the place where the Twin Towers once stood, were illuminated at sunset and stayed on until sunrise on Sunday morning.