Fear not, New Yorkers? A monster mosque will not soar over Ground Zero. The news should have reverberated all over the city, ‘The Ground Zero Victory Mosque blinked!’ But if you shut your eyes for a second, you likely missed it.
(Don’t believe it, all muslims lie to infidels because their quran tells them to)
NY POST Last month, in an amazing feat of contrition mixed with public-relations savvy, the man who controls 51 Park Place, the spot where developers threatened to build a 15-story, $100 million mega-mosque and Islamic center in the shadow of Ground Zero — said such a project will not be built.
Originally, Park51, formerly Cordoba (as in the Moors’ conquering of Spain Cordoba) House) was envisioned as a monster complex, complete with sex-segregated swimming pool and religiously segregated prayer spaces.
But buried deep inside the mosque-supportive New York Times, on a Saturday, was an amazing mea culpa by Sharif El-Gamal, lead developer of the boneheaded project, which, polls demonstrate, is opposed by 70 percent of New Yorkers.
El-Gamal said raising $100 million was unrealistic. And 15 stories? Would Park51 become, as planned, a soaring testament to the rise of Islam? Or, as some protested, a giant middle finger erected close to the scene of a massacre?
Not gonna happen. “If the community only wants four or five floors, it’s going to be four or five f
loors,’’ said El-Gamal. And maybe not that many. Plus, he said it would take at least five years before he could raise two dimes and start building. (Only because the Saudi King refused to fund it unless they move it from this location)
The Times piece made it sound as if Park51 had turned a corner. El-Gamal had already forced out the fiery and stubborn Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf, who refused to call Hamas a terrorist organization, and Rauf’s wife, Daisy Khan. Had the kinder, gentler and more accommodating face of Islam taken over in the form of the American-born El-Gamal?
Or, as some community members suggested to me, is Sharif El-Gamal merely counting on wearing people out? “It’s new packaging on an old product,’’ said downtown resident Betty Murray. “You start small, you build from there.’’ Last week, with no protest, Park51 opened to the public an exhibit featuring noncontroversial photos of New York children.
At the opening, the 37-year-old developer, not known to speak with anyone except the loving Times, kept up his “We’re the good guys’’ mantra, telling The Post, “We made incredible mistakes’’ with the mosque. “The biggest mistake we made was not to include 9/11 families.’’
But if the public is buying the all-inclusive mantra, some on Community Board 1, which voted last year to welcome the mosque, are not so sure.
“We don’t know what they’re really going to do. They’ve said they wanted to do a lot of things,’’ said a board member who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation. Still, he confessed to being weary of the fight. “It’s been emotionally and physically draining. After the anniversary [of 9/11] passed, I have to distance myself from it.’’
El-Gamal has been busted at least seven times since 1990 for DWI and disorderly conduct, and charged with failing to pay more than $200,000 in taxes. Most recently, in 2005, El-Gamal was arrested for assaulting a man who sublet an apartment from his brother, punching the guy and breaking his nose and cheekbone. El-Gamal at first said he didn’t hit the man, but WCBS/Channel 2 discovered records that show El-Gamal conceded “his face could have run into my hand.’’
I tried to talk to El-Gamal and give him a chance to turn me around to the sunny face of Islam. He refused. Can you blame him?
Last year, The Washington Post and Salon.com reported that the national mosque controversy started in the blogs but moved into the mainstream media through my column. An honor. My piece concluded with this message: “Move it away.’’ I just hope El-Gamal can be trusted to keep the thing small and friendly. I won’t count on it.