14 Sep 2010

All options still being explored - Ground Zero cleric

3:26 pm on 14 September 2010

The cleric behind plans to build an Islamic community centre near Ground Zero in New York says he is still exploring all options for the project.

Critics say building close to the site where almost almost 3000 people were killed by al-Qaeda hijackers in 2001 is offensive.

Thousands of people marched through New York on Saturday on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, demonstrating both for and against the project.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf says the plan would bring honour to city of New York and to Muslims around the world.

But he adds that everything is on the table in a bid to resolve the crisis.

Mr Rauf says he and the project's other backers did not anticipate the outcry it would cause.

He says he wants the centre to encourage moderates to come together from all sides and claims that retreating on the project would only strengthen the hand of Muslim extremists.