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Trump wades into NY Islamic center controversy

By Ben Rooney, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- In an effort to end the controversy surrounding a proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan, real estate mogul Donald Trump has offered to buy the property at a 25% premium.

Trump made the offer Thursday in a letter to Hisham Elzanaty, an investor in the Islamic center site.

"I am making this offer as a resident of New York and citizen of the United States, not because I think the location is a spectacular one (because it is not), but because it will end a very serious, inflammatory, and highly divisive situation that is destined, in my opinion, to only get worse," he wrote.

As part of the offer, Trump further stipulated that if a mosque is to be built, "it would be located at least five blocks further from the World Trade Center site."

Trump said he would pay cash for the site and close the deal immediately. "Hopefully, something good can happen!" he concluded.

There was no immediate response from Elzanaty.

Trump, who may be best known as the star of the reality TV show The Apprentice, has been investing in New York real estate for decades. His management company, The Trump Group, owns a number of high-rises in Manhattan and operates casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, as well as several golf courses.

The proposed Islamic center, known as Park51, is slated to include a variety of facilities, including a prayer room, a performing arts center, gym, swimming pool and other public spaces. It is planned for a site two blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood.

Critics of the center say it is an affront to survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which was carried out by Islamic extremists affiliated with al Qaeda.

Supporters of the project, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, cite First Amendment rights and the need to express religious tolerance, among other freedoms.

-- The CNN Wire Staff contributed to this report.  To top of page

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