Lower Manhattan mosque part of 'Americanization' of Islam, Daisy Khan says

The wife of the imam behind the Cordoba House Muslim community center in Manhattan says the opposition to its construction goes "beyond Islamophobia," likening it to a "metastasized anti-Semitism."

"We are deeply concerned, because this is like a metastasized anti-Semitism," Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, told ABC's Christiane Amanpour. "It's not even Islamophobia. It's beyond Islamophobia, it's hate of Muslims."

The interview took place as supporters and opponents of the mosque protested in lower Manhattan on Sunday, with police keeping the two groups blocks apart.

Khan was joined on ABC's This Week by Rabbi Joy Levitt, head of the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan. Levitt said that "some part" of the opposition to the mosque "feels very familiar."

"Peter Stuyvesant refused to allow synagogues to be built in New York in the 1600s," Levitt said. "It took an act of Congress to allow synagogues to be built."

Khan said that the development of community centers such as the Cordoba House being planned for lower Manhattan is a natural step in the "Americanization" of religions. She pointed to Christianity and Judaism as two faiths that have expanded into the fields of community service, giving the Jewish Community Center network and the YMCA as examples.

"The Muslim community is also inevitably going to develop such a center," she said.

Khan described the center -- dubbed the "Ground Zero mosque" by its opponents -- as a place where parents will be able to bring their children to go swimming or take cooking lessons. The Cordoba House will also have "prayer space ... because it will meet the needs of the Muslim community's need to worship on Fridays."

Khan said the Muslim center is being modeled after Rabbi Levitt's Jewish Community Center. It will be "a place where ideas can be exchanged, but tolerance ... will be the standard."

She said the idea of moving the mosque -- as has been suggested by New York Gov. David Paterson, and rejected by Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- is "not on the table" until it has been discussed with "stakeholders."

But Khan said the mosque and community center would be built. "Of course it has to go ahead. There's too much at stake."

The following video was broadcast on ABC's This Week, August 22, 2010.