The old story was that the Ground Zero Mosque had nothing to do with the location. It just happened to be there to provide Muslims with a mosque.
But that was a blatant lie because there was no Muslim community in the area worth mentioning. The area around Ground Zero is barely residential and mainly caters to the business community. The Muslims who attended the mosque were mostly itinerant food service vendors and a few Wall Street types.
There was nothing there requiring a major mosque, certainly not one that would operate outside business hours.
Now the Ground Zero Mosque is becoming a Museum of Islam. There’s certainly no local need for such a thing. It’s a blatant exploitation of the location.
The original excuse that the mosque was intended for Muslims and just happened to be near Ground Zero has been shot to hell. A museum can be built anywhere. It doesn’t have to be there. It’s there to exploit September 11.
The interesting thing about the story is what’s missing. The “neutral” branding of Park 51 is mostly gone. This is a blatantly Islamist project and there’s no pretense that this is serving the needs of a local Muslim community.
The developer whose proposal to build a Muslim community center and mosque near the World Trade Center failed amid a national controversy three years ago said Tuesday that he now plans to construct a museum devoted to Islam in the same location.
Sharif El-Gamal, the developer, said through a spokesman that instead of a $100 million, 15-story community center and prayer space, he now planned a smaller, three-story museum “dedicated to exploring the faith of Islam and its arts and culture.” The building would also include a sanctuary for prayer services and community programs.
The museum will be a 5,000-square-foot, three-story structure.
“This is a more tailored approach, both physically and programmatically,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a spokesman for Mr. El-Gamal. “It will prove to be an important addition to the neighborhood and to New York City’s arts and cultural community.”
One of Nouvel’s more famous projects was the Arab World Institute in Paris. So we’re going to see an Arabic influenced glass design.
Does the neighborhood need a museum of Islam? Not remotely. It already has two museums no one visits. And the Ground Zero museum which this aims to compete with/supplement. It’s an obnoxious move and if it gets built, it will constantly stay in the news.
Left unclear by Mr. El-Gamal’s announcement was how realistic his plans are. When asked about financing, Mr. Sheinkopf said only that Mr. El-Gamal would initially finance the museum and sanctuary himself and that he hoped to find other benefactors.
Mr. El-Gamal has had trouble raising money in the past. And, in 2011, he was sued by Consolidated Edison Company, which owns part of the site, for $1.7 million in back rent. Mr. El-Gamal disputed the formulas used to calculate this figure and filed a lawsuit.
Can El-Gamal do all this?
The Ground Zero Mosque has few programs worth mentioning and is currently trying to rent space and raise money. Those aren’t signs of a successful center and it sounds like El-Gamal has come up with a new spin in hopes of raising money.
Park 51 claims that it needs donations for chairs and desks. That doesn’t sound like El-Gamal is being all that charitable. Either someone is lying or El-Gamal is playing this out with a profit endgame that can fall apart if the project becomes toxic enough.
El-Gamal has tried to recreate the Ground Zero Mosque in a number of ways and the whole thing reeks of sleazy ratty real estate developer.
Though clear of legal entanglement, Park51 is still in need of more than $17 million in construction financing. Towards that end, Sharif El-Gamal, the developer behind the project, at a fundraiser dinner last Friday launched a campaign to raise $7 million for the community center near Ground Zero by Sept. 10, WNYC reported.
El-Gamal said it was a “motivational deadline” for supporters of the project, who want to take back the identity that was “stolen” from Muslims by the 9/11 terrorists.
Though less than 75 people attended the fundraiser where El-Gamal spoke…
How much money has actually been raised? That’s an interesting question.
The mission statement for Park 51 aka the Ground Zero Mosque states that it is “AN ORGANIZATION OF RISING LEADERS THAT PROMOTES THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE MUSLIM-AMERICAN IDENTIFY IN THE HEART OF AMERICA, THROUGH THE VEHICLES OF EDUCATION, CULTURE AND RECREATION THE ORGANIZATION ALSO SEEKS TO BE A STRONG PARTNER OF HUMANITARIAN CAUSES, CROSS CULTURAL AND RELIGIOS DIALOGUE, AND EDUCATION IN GENERAL.”
Misspellings and capitals are all in the original text. Again it’s a rather clear statement that this is intended to promote Islam in America.