Critics See Symbols of Islam in Flight 93 Memorial Design

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As envisioned by its designer, the memorial to the victims who died on Sept. 11, 2001, when United Flight 93 crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pa., would follow the topography of the bowl-shaped land, creating a circular pathway ringed by trees, all focused on the “sacred ground” of the crash site near the bottom of the circle.

But almost from the moment the winning entry for the memorial was chosen in 2005 over 1,058 others it has been beset by controversy, most of it coming from critics who see Islamic symbolism in the design.

The critics complain that the shape of the memorial — designed by Paul Murdoch, an architect based in Los Angeles — is an Islamic crescent, that a wind-chime tower mirrors an Islamic minaret and that the memorial would point east toward the Islamic holy city of Mecca.

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