New York, Aug 22(ANI): New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio has labeled the imam behind the "9/11 Ground Zero mosque" a terrorist sympathizer.
The proposed 13-story 100 million dollar Islamic cultural center will be built two blocks away from the former site of the World Trade Center.
"New Yorkers have been through enough. Now a terrorist-sympathizing imam wants to build a 100 million dollar mosque near ground zero," CBS News quoted Lazio, as saying while appearing in an advertisement.
"Where is this money coming from? Who's really behind it?" he added.
In the advertisement, Lazio, one of the first politicians to come out against the project, also criticizes likely Democratic nominee Andrew Cuomo for defending efforts to build the mosque.
Opposition to the Islamic center, which backers say will promote interfaith understanding, has become a national issue.
Earlier, Rick Scott, a Republican running for Florida governor, had released an ad in which he said that US President Barack Obama was "wrong" for suggesting that the project is about tolerance.
Tea Party groups had held rallies calling the project an insult to the families of those who died on 9/11.
Some opponents even claimed that it would be used to recruit Islamic extremists. (ANI)