NEW YORK, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Hundreds of demonstrators both for and against a proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero gathered Sunday in New York City.
CNN said police estimated about 250 center supporters and about 450 critics had rallied by late morning.
Assuming organizers raise $100 million, the center would contain a mosque, performing arts center, gym and swimming pool, among other amenities. It would be constructed on private property near where the World Trade Center was destroyed and more than 2,700 people were killed by Islamic terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001.
The Coalition to Honor Ground Zero said on its Web site firefighters and families of relatives killed in the terror attacks would be among those gathered at the rally.
President Barack Obama injected himself into the debate when he expressed support for the right to build the Cordoba House, as the center would be called. But he qualified the statement the next day, saying he had not been commenting on "the wisdom" of the Ground Zero project, only the right to build it.
Some Republicans -- calling the community center site "sacred ground" because of its proximity to Ground Zero -- have tried to portray Obama as out of touch with most Americans, who overwhelmingly oppose the project.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released earlier this month indicated opposition to the proposed facility was at 68 percent nationally.