The heated debate across America over the construction of the so-called ''ground zero mosque'' is reverberating across the world, with the potential to create serious diplomatic problems for the US.
Many Muslims abroad are upset by the debate, largely conducted by non-Muslims, which has grown so loud as to become a topic of discussion from Baghdad to Berlin.
On Sunday, the area around the proposed project, two blocks from the former World Trade Centre site, drew hundreds of opponents, some carrying signs associating Islam with blood, and depicting American flags.
Opponents of the proposed $US100 million ($112 million), 13-storey Islamic community centre and mosque outnumbered supporters of the project. Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA blared over loudspeakers as mosque opponents chanted, ''No mosque, no way!''
The bitter division over Cordoba House has become a symbol of America's fraught relations with the world's 1.5 billion Muslims.
''Rejecting this has become like rejecting Islam itself,'' said Ahmad Moussalli, a professor of Islamic Studies at the American University of Beirut.
''The US has historically been distinguished by its tolerance, whereas Europe, France, Belgium and Holland have been among those who have rejected the symbolism of Islam. Embracing it will be positively viewed in the Islamic world.''
Some Muslims say it is a bad idea to construct the building so close to the site of the Twin Towers, whose destruction on September 11, 2001, at the hands of 19 Muslim extremists is etched into the minds of people all over the world.
''Building a mosque there will increase hatred between Muslims and non-Muslims in the west,'' said Gamal Awad, a professor at Cairo's Al-Azhar University. ''It will further connect Islam with a horrible event.''
But many Muslims tuning into the debate see a demonisation of their religion by some Americans who have been painting the 1400-year-old faith as a dangerous political ideology.
Muslims worry that the campaign has become caught up in the same racially tinged clash-of-civilisations campaigns to ban Muslim women in France from wearing Islamic garb or Muslims in Switzerland to build minarets on their houses of worship.
''What is important is the symbolic dimension to the issue,'' said Zaki Saad, a former leader of the Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, called the Islamic Action Front.
''When they connect all Muslims to September 11, that means they connect terrorism and extremism to Islam. This is a form of discrimination and unacceptable.''