In the storm of anger and accusation over an Islamic center and mosque planned near ground zero, one thing seems clear to Laique Khan: His fellow Muslims have a right to build the project.
“If this really is a free country,” said Mr. Khan, 56, the manager of a trucking company in Brooklyn, “then, by all rights you must, you must, allow it.”
The same holds true for Pervaz Akhtar, a tailor who keeps a shop a few blocks from the center’s site — and who lost his first shop and nearly his life in the Sept. 11 attacks. “There is a principle involved,” Mr. Akhtar, 58, said. “We believe in the American Constitution.”
Yet with equal confidence, both men — who squared their shoulders and seemed to address an imaginary town hall meeting when discussing the issue — embrace a seemingly contradictory conviction about the center: It does not have to be two blocks from the site of the attacks.
“If they want to put it 10 blocks away, that’s fine,” Mr. Akhtar said. “I believe in compromise, too.”