Protesters set this year's Sept. 11 tribute apart

 

NEW YORK --- This Sept. 11 was unmistakably different from the eight that came before it.

Within hours of the city's memorial service near ground zero, groups of protesters had taken up positions in lower Manhattan, blocks apart and representing both sides of the debate over a proposed mosque at the site, which has suffused the nation's politics for weeks leading up to the anniversary.

Near City Hall, supporters of the mosque toted signs that read, "The attack on Islam is racism" and "Tea Party bigots funded by corporate $." Opponents carried placards that read, "It stops here" and "Never forgive, never forget, no WTC mosque."

In New York, the leader of a small Christian congregation in Florida who had planned to burn copies of the Quran to mark the Sept. 11 anniversary called off his plans. Nevertheless, there were isolated reports of Quran desecrations Saturday, including two not far from ground zero.

Afghans, meanwhile, set fire to tires in the streets and shouted "Death to America" for a second day despite Pastor Terry Jones' decision to call off the burning. The largest protest drew a crowd estimated at 10,000.

There were no arrests in New York, police said. There were scuffles in the streets, including one in which a man ripped up another's poster advocating freedom of religion and the second man struck back with the stick.