WASHINGTON US Muslim leaders called Wednesday for more protection from law enforcement amid what they described as a wave of 'Islamophobia over plans to build an Islamic centre and mosque near the site of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York. We ask for extra protection of the Muslim community, Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said at a press conference. We call on local state and federal authorities to provide extra protection for the Muslim community in the next days and weeks based on the kind of hysteria that was seen. Several US Muslim groups pointed to protests over the proposed mosque as well as plans to burn copies of the Holy Quran at a Florida church on September 11. They said organised efforts against Muslims seemed to be escalating. Imam Mahdi Bray, Executive Director of the Muslim American Society, praised former president George W Bush for standing up to those who would conflate Islam with terrorism. We do not see this type of courage happening now, he said, accusing both political parties as being more concerned about losing votes than standing up for them. The FBI should protect houses of worship and find those who commit acts of violence against them, said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper, pointing to recent acts of vandalism at a mosque construction site in Tennessee. But he said it would not be appropriate for officers to attend prayer services, rather local police should step up patrols near mosques in order to protect worshippers. A private initiative to build an Islamic Centre, including a Mosque, few blocks from Ground Zero - the site in downtown New York where the World Trade Centres Twin Towers were destroyed in the al-Qaeda strikes of September 11, 2001 - has renewed debate about Islam in US society. Though most New Yorkers support the rights of the group to worship where they chose, they believe the site should be relocated to a less sensitive location, a recent poll showed. CAIR released a series of public service television announcements on Wednesday showing a Muslim firefighter and Muslim medical worker who responded to the terrorist attacks. Another ad shows Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious leaders speaking in favour of dialogue and freedom of religion. The September 11 anniversary, which this year falls near the end of Ramadan, has prompted renewed calls for understanding. Washington area Imam Johari Abdul Malik said Muslims should consider pushing back their Eid al-Fitr celebrations so they do not fall while we are mourning the loss of our fellow citizens.