Freedom museum at Twin Towers site cancelled

NEW YORK - Plans to build a freedom museum at the World Trade Center site were effectively scrapped as Governor George Pataki gave in to pressure from vocal families of September 11 victims, saying the project had aroused "too much opposition, too much controversy."

The International Freedom Center (IFC) was criticised by some families of the 2,749 people killed on September 11, 2001, who said the museum would not focus strictly on the terror attacks and might mount exhibits that could be judged as anti-American.

"Today there remains too much opposition, too much controversy, over the programing of the IFC and we must move forward with our first priority, the creation of an inspiring memorial to pay tribute to our lost loved ones and tell their stories to the world," Pataki said in a statement.

The freedom centre, intended to celebrate ideals of freedom and tolerance, was to stand adjacent to a memorial for September 11 victims in the rebuilding of the 6.5ha site. Some 9/11 family members also believed it might overshadow the memorial.

Pataki said he would direct the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. to explore other locations for the centre.

But the head of the IFC project said in a statement that he did not think there was a viable alternative place for the museum at the World Trade Center site.

"We consider our work, therefore, to have been brought to an end," said IFC president Richard Tofel.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was disappointed.

"Although I understand Governor Pataki's decision, I am disappointed that we were not able to find a way to reconcile the freedoms we hold so dear with the sanctity of the site," Bloomberg said in a statement.

Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton of New York applauded the decision.

"I welcome Governor Pataki's decision to oppose the International Freedom Center, heeding the concerns of family members and first responders," Clinton said.

"The controversy surrounding the IFC has impeded progress on the memorial and essential rebuilding efforts in Lower Manhattan."

- REUTERS

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