Tag Archives: park 51

Imam Feisal Abdul Raif is leading the Ground Zero mosque building efforts

Ground Zero Mosque Gets New Imam

Imam Feisal Abdul Raif is leading the Ground Zero mosque building efforts
Imam Feisal Abdul Raif is taking a reduced role in the Park 51 "Ground Zero Mosque"

The New York Times reports that there are some new issues surrounding the hot-button issues that is the planned “Ground Zero Mosque” AKA Park 51. Feisal Abdul Rauf, the mosque’s Imam, which is the prayer leader, will remain on the board of the Islamic Community Center and the mosque. But his role will be greatly reduced as a result; Abdul Rauf, who has gone on international and domestic speaking tours, will no longer raise funds for the project nor will he speak on its behalf.

Sharif el-Gamal, who is Abdul Rauf’s partner in the project and who owns the former coat store where the community center and mosque are planned, announced the split late last week.  It appears that Abdul Rauf was not “Lower Manhattan” enough for the project. “While Imam Feisal’s vision has a global scope and his ideals for the Cordoba movement are truly exceptional, our community in Lower Manhattan is local,” said Gamal in a statement. “Our focus is and must remain the residents of Lower Manhattan and the Muslim American community in the greater New York area.”

However, other sources have indicated that Abdul Rauf and Gamal also have opposing opinions on the size, scope, commerciality and the interfaith nature of the planned center. They even refer to the project by different names; Abdul Rauf called it “The Cordoba House” while Gamal referred to it as “Park 51,” which is also how most New Yorkers recognize it.

What are your thoughts on the Ground Zero Mosque/Park 51 in 2011?

park 51 rendering

Park51 Developers File For $5 Million in Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Funds

park 51 rendering
Architectural rendering of Park51's planned futuristic design

Despite their efforts to educate Lower Manhattan dwellers about their plans for the Islamic community center and mosque that will be situated just two blocks from Ground Zero, Park51 developers applied for nearly $5 million in federal grants, according to The Daily Beast. The government set aside $20 billion in funds under a “community and cultural enhancement grant” program overseen by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation with the specific purpose of redeveloping lower Manhattan after the Twin Towers collapsed nearly a decade ago. Given the divided nature of New Yorkers regarding Park51, the fact that the developers filed for funding that they may or not need is expected to incite the ire of on-the-fence locals.

While the LMDC board and Park 51 officials refused to comment on the application due to confidentiality issues, Park 51, which is aiming to provide a community center for Lower Manhattan’s Muslims population, are well within their rights to apply for the grant, as the application stats that religious groups are permitted to make requests as long as they submit “for a facility or portion of a facility that is dedicated to non-religious activities or uses.” A source familiar with the application claims that Park 51 omitted the prayer room from their request.

Park51 maintains that its overarching goal is the “change the conversation about Muslims in America,” but sources speculate that while most Lower Manhattanites are okay with the community center being located in their backyard and a community board approved Park51 in two separate votes,  the request for public funds to develop a private property could anger residents.  Other sources indicate that Park51 doesn’t meet the funding requirements.

What do you think of Park51 requesting federal funding?

park 51 rendering

Park51 Offering Public Information Sessions

park 51 rendering
Architectural rendering of Park51's planned futuristic design

Manhattanites are divided over Park51, the planned community center funded by Muslims that will feature a Muslim prayer space referred to as “The Ground Zero Mosque,” being erected so close to former World Trade Center site. However, Park51 is offering a series of public information sessions over the next few months to educate both supporters and critics. According to Park51’s John Lichten, the weekly Q&A sessions will take place on Wednesdays, beginning this evening, and will run through December. Park51 developer Sharif El-Gamal will attend with the aim of describing the project and to answer probing, poignant questions.

Sessions will be limited to a dozen participants per week, so interested parties should email info@park51.org in advance of their preferred attendance date. The sessions are not open to the media.

According to DNA Info, Lichten stated that “very early on, there were a number of misconceptions about what we were doing. We’ve been trying to clear them up [and] we want to get what we’re doing out there to the people who need to hear it the most.”

Do you think these sessions will truly help concerned New Yorkers understand Park51’s goals?

Ground Zero Mosque

Pastor Who Wanted to Burn the Koran Visits Ground Zero

Ground Zero Mosque
The planned location of the Park51 Community Center

Terry Jones, the Pastor from Florida who threatend to burn the Koran during the height of the Ground Zero Mosque controversy, paid a visit to Ground Zero today and held a press conference. As reported by the New York Post, the press conference took place at Park 51, “to bring awareness to his new organization Stand Up America and how radical Islam needs to be combated.” His organization hopes to go before the UN to “adopt normal human rights” in the Middle East.

When the New York Post asked Pastor Terry Jones if his visit at the start of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha was of significance,  he replied that he didn’t know of any such holiday, adding, “Our methods are not meant to offend.”

Do you think the visit by Pastor Terry Jones to Ground Zero was offensive?

Sarah Palin Refudiates Ground Zero Mosque

Sarah Palin “Refudiates” Ground Zero Mosque on Twitter

Sarah Palin Refudiates Ground Zero Mosque
Sarah Palin Refudiates Ground Zero Mosque

Remarkably silent on her Twitter account after news of her daughter Bristol Palin’s engagement to ex-boyfriend and family nemesis Levi Johnston — America’s favorite soccer mom, Sarah Palin seems to have broken her silence on behalf of 9/11 families and opponents of the Ground Zero mosque at the World Trade Center site.

In a series of Twitter comments, Palin tweets:

“Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real”

“Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate”

“Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing”

Upon the news of her tweets, Palin was instantly mocked for using a word not in the English vocabulary, “refudiate.” Palin has since deleted that post and made light of her grasp of the English language.

“Refudiate,” “misunderestimate,” “wee-wee’d up.” English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!”

It is clear that not all politicians are celebrating the momentum that the Cordoba Initiative’s Park 51 mosque is receiving. Sarah Palin joins Rick Lazio as the most vocal political opponents of the mosque, where as other politicians including current New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a strong advocate for the building of the mosque. Another strong advocate is our Community Board who oversees development in Battery Park City and at the World Trade Center site.

The current developer of Park 51 Sharif El-Gamal sees the mosque not only as a community center near Ground Zero, but as a future tourist attraction as well. El-Gamal was quoted in a recent Wall Street Journal article that he hopes that when tour buses come through the area, the mosque will become a monument as significant as the Empire State Building.

Park51 Architecture may be influenced by Cooper Union and 7 World Trade Center

Sharif El-Gamal Sees Mosque As Empire State Building

Park51 Architecture may be influenced by Cooper Union and 7 World Trade Center
Park51 Architecture may be influenced by Cooper Union and 7 World Trade Center

The developer of the Park 51 mosque and community center, formerly known as the Cordoba Initiative — has put his ambitions on the record with the Wall Street Journal for the impending World Trade Center mosque to be a significant architectural structure in New York City.

“I want to build something that when people come to New York…that Park51 is on that red tour bus as something that they have to see because it’s one of the most significant buildings in New York City,” says El-Gamal in the Wall Street Journal.

El-Gamal’s architectural team could be a great indication of his potential success, but has not named a team just yet. However, he has noted that two buildings he considers great examples of the architectural direction of the mosque include the steely Cooper Union building in Astor place and the glass behemoth 7 World Trade Center building.

According to the same article it was noted that the design would evoke modernity and would not necessarily adopt a traditional mosque style, “It’s definitely going to be an expression of New York and of America,” Mr. El-Gamal said in an interview Friday, a few days after his project, now dubbed Park51, came under fire at a raucous Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing.”

The slated location for the Park51 mosque has already been converted into a makeshift mosque with nearly 400 Muslims who journey to the location at 45-51 Park Place for Friday prayer service.