An Interview with the Lead Developer of Park51
With all the absurd and deliberately distorted misinformation circulating around the Park51 project (the Bigot Brigade calls it the “Ground Zero mosque,” although it’s not actually at Ground Zero and will be a community center, not just a mosque), Aziz Poonawalla went to the source and interviewed the lead developer of the project, SoHo Properties CEO Sharif el-Gamal: Q&A with Sharif el-Gamal about Park 51, NYC.
Poonawalla asks about all of the hot button issues that are being exploited by the Robert Spencer-Pamela Geller mob; Imam Feisal’s past statements, why the community center is located near Ground Zero, funding sources for the project, and more. It’s a very interesting read.
Some of Imam Feisal’s past statements [1,2] have been used by critics to undermine the project’s credibility. Can Imam Feisal clarify his views on terrorism to reassure New Yorkers he understands the moral weight of the tragedy of 9-11?
Imam Feisal has been a champion of pluralism and tolerance. He fully understands the enormity of 9-11. In fact his own congregation was only blocks away from Ground Zero. He works very hard, day in and day out, to fight extremism and radicalism.
More to the point, this is going to be a community center. Park51 is not a political organization. We do not have a political agenda, and we will be open to all New Yorkers. What we do not have room for are extremist views and opinions. Radical and hateful agendas will have no place in our community center or in the mosque. We are building this center for New York City, because we’re New Yorkers. We’re Americans. We have families here and futures here.
On September 11, 2001, I went down to the site of the attacks and spent two days handing out water to first responders and other victims. Hundreds of Muslims died on that day. New Yorkers of all faiths and no faiths died together. There are also hundreds of Muslims in our police force and fire department and many Muslims who volunteered to help the injured and the hurt. One of my close friends, a Muslim and a New Yorker, headed down to Ground Zero after the attacks, and helped set up a triage.
She was buried in the rubble when the towers collapsed, but she was dug out, thank God, and went right back to work. We understand the horror of that day because we lived it. Terrorists attacked our city and our country, and terrorists have continued to threaten our city and our country. We’re proud of the many Muslims who have worked with our fellow Americans to keep our city and country safe.