A group seeking to build an Islamic cultural center and mosque close to Ground Zero on Friday named a new imam to head up the controversial project.
The new director of the project, imam Abdallah Adhami, is an American Muslim who was born in Washington, and has worked for the past 20 years as an Islamic leader in the United States, the Park51 organization said.
He is also a graduate in architecture from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and has led several community integration projects, it added in a statement.
"This is an extraordinary opportunity to be a key advisor on a project going forward that has enormous creative and healing potential for the collective good in New York City and in our nation," Adhami said in a statement.
The Park51 organization said that Muslim leader Feisal Abdul Rauf, who had been the main person behind the project, will now tour the United States to meet religious leaders from other communities.
"Imam Feisal will remain on the Board of Directors of Park51," the statement said, adding however that his tour was not being undertaken in the name of their organization.
The proposed center, to be located two blocks from the site of the 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, has fueled vehement protests from those who said the site should not house an mosque.
Al-Qaeda militants riding two hijacked planes smashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, destroying the famed Twin Towers and killing almost 3,000 people.
The center sparked a national debate about the place of Islam among the numerous religions practiced in the United States.