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Farrakhan supports planned mosque near ground zero

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Farrakhan supports planned mosque near ground zero

Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan said last Thursday that an Islamic community center and mosque planned near ground zero should be built because Muslims were among those of many faiths who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“Why then should a mosque, a cultural center, not be constructed a few blocks away?” Farrakhan asked at a news conference in Washington, where he was joined by a coalition of African American Muslims.

Farrakhan and other Muslim leaders said the controversy over the building points to a rise in racism toward minorities and an anti-Islamic atmosphere.

The proposed $100 million project has been denounced by many critics as insensitive to the families of people killed at the World Trade Center. They say it is disrespectful to build an Islamic institution so close to the spot where nearly 2,800 people died at the hands of Muslim extremists.

“When that building was destroyed, the whole world felt it,” Farrakhan said, adding that many Muslims had offered their condolences to the country in the wake of the attacks. He said the area is also hallowed ground to blacks who are Muslims.

“Muslims are here. We are not terrorists,” Farrakhan said. “We will not allow anyone on our watch to do some silly act to deprive an innocent human being of their life. And if we see it, we’ll stop it.”

Early plans for the Islamic center in lower Manhattan call for a swimming pool, a Sept. 11 memorial open to the public and a prayer space.

Farrakhan also commented on the rumors that President Barack Obama is a Muslim.

Obama is a Christian.

“Respect his choice,” Farrakhan said. “He chose to be a Christian, but he has deep respect for Islam. Take him as he is.”

Ariz. city considers ending contracting policy

The city of Phoenix is considering a proposal that would bring an end to contracting standards that helped minority- and women-owned businesses open shops and restaurants at Sky Harbor International Airport.

The City Council’s four-member Downtown, Aviation and Economy Subcommittee has unanimously approved a proposal to ensure small businesses, regardless of the gender or race of the owner, are candidates for concessions contracts.

The proposal would effectively end special consideration for minority- and women-owned businesses in food and beverage contracting.

The City Council will have the final say on the proposal.

About 28 percent of Sky Harbor’s $167 million gross retail- and food-concession sales are attributed to firms owned by women or minorities.

DomRep investors buy nation’s oldest newspaper

A partnership of Dominican businessmen has bought the Dominican Republic’s oldest daily newspaper and its radio stations, officials announced last week.

The Dominican Republic’s Central Bank formalized the sale of Listin Diario to a group of 20 wealthy investors, who said in a statement they shared a commitment “to preserve and be faithful to the historical legacy” of the 121-year-old company.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but officials said the total cost includes the roughly $51.8 million the media company owes to the government, which temporarily seized and ran the newspaper after a severe banking crisis in 2003.

The investors, including Juan Bautista Vicini Lluberes of the Dominican sugar giant Vicini and media mogul Jose Luis “Pepin” Corripio, met with President Leonel Fernandez last week to vow that the debt will be paid.

The sale of the newspaper and its radio stations took shape after more than a year of negotiations with the chief of the Central Bank, Hector Valdez Albizu.

Listin Diario was owned by the prominent Pellerano family from its founding in 1889 until 2000, when it was bought by Ramon Baez Figueroa, head of Banco Intercontinental, then the country’s second biggest bank.

The government took over the newspaper temporarily after the bank collapsed in May 2003 after losing some $2.2 billion through embezzlement, fraud and bad deals. Baez was fined $1.9 million and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Listin Diario has a daily circulation of 60,000.

Associated Press