Mosque Foes & Backers Clash at Ground Zero (Video)


Rage-filled Ground Zero mosque foes and supporters yesterday hurled insults at each other, brandished taunting signs, and had to be cordoned off by cops at dueling rallies near the controversial site.

Shouting, "U-S-A, U-S-A!" behind police barricades, about 500 mosque foes clutched signs demanding, "No clubhouse for terrorists," and featuring the word "SHARIA" -- or Islamic law -- written in red letters made to look like blood dripping.

An opposing group of about 150 mosque supporters was kept behind a second set of barricades a block away, shouting, "Fascists go home!" and waving signs declaring: "America!!! When did it become O.K. to be a bigot, a racist, again?"

Despite cops' efforts to keep the two groups separate, scuffles broke out several times.

An anti-mosque firefighter shoved Josh Wilies, a supporter of the project who was holding up a sign touting the First Amendment.

"We're seeing hostility here," a shaken Wilies, 26, said afterward. "This should be about free speech, not no speech."

There were no arrests, police said.

The anti-mosque crowd, which ramped up its invective as the day of rallying wore on, outlasted the pro-crowd by several hours.

"This is not abuse of freedom of religion . . . It's a disgrace," said Debra Burlingame, 56, head of the group 9/11 Families for a Strong America.

"Feisal Abdul Rauf is a soft-spoken, smart-talking, warm and fuzzy imam -- that's the way he'd like to be perceived," she said, referring to the mosque's leader.

"But he is a fraud . . . and we're going to expose him to the American people."

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