Plans made by a New York City community board to construct a mosque on Ground Zero, the site of the 9/11 attacks, came in for opposition from a new, and unexpected, quarter this week — the Anti-Defamation League, described as an “influential Jewish organisation”.

In a statement, the ADL said given that there were strong passions and keen sensitivities surrounding the World Trade Centre site, it believed that the City of New York would be better served if an alternative location could be found. The ADL said the construction of an Islamic Centre “in the shadow of the World Trade Centre” would cause some victims unnecessary pain. Ultimately, this was not a question of rights, but a question of what was right, the organisation said in a statement.

In May this year, the Manhattan community board had fiercely debated but ultimately endorsed the plan to build a mosque on the site by a vote of 29-to-1. The decision was attacked shortly thereafter by Tea Party leaders such as Mark Williams, who made disparaging remarks about Islam, terrorism and the purpose of having a mosque. Given the extreme nature of the comments, New York community authorities were quick to reiterate their support for the mosque proposal.

The Cordoba Initiative, which is leading the mosque's development, is about “moderate American Muslims who are the vast majority of the Muslim in the world and who condemn terrorism and 9/11,” according to founder Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.