August 18th, 2010
09:20 AM ET

Reports: Site of Islamic Center up in air


Editor's note: New York Gov. David Paterson joins Larry King in his first interview about the Islamic cultural center controversy. "Larry King Live," 9 p.m. ET Wednesday on CNN.

New York Gov. David Paterson may meet with developers who had been pushing to build an Islamic center near ground zero.

Paterson is set to meet with the group this week to offer them state land to construct the controversial mosque at another location, according to CBS 2 and other news outlets.

However, New York 1 is reporting in an exclusive interview with the developer that he has no intention of budging. Sharif el-Gamal imagined what he hoped the center would mean in a story Tuesday. "A landmark, an iconic building that will have people come and visit it from around the world," he said. "This looks like it is going to be the most famous community center in the world."

The Islamic center's leaders say they plan to build the $100 million, 13-story facility called Cordoba House two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks. El-Gamal has describe the project as an "Islamic community center" that would include a 500-seat performing arts center, a lecture hall, a swimming pool, a gym, a culinary school, a restaurant and a prayer space for Muslims.

iReport: What's your take on the issue?


Filed under: David Paterson • New York
soundoff (1,062 Responses)
  1. Yahwh1

    John, Someday you wll meet "the invisible God" face to face and then you will be cast out of His Holy presence for your unbeleif iin the One who created you and gives you breath to see another day. Seek Him now while you still have time. He is a merciful God!!

    August 18, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  2. Gwhat

    No one has commented on what is obvious in the article. "Sharif el-Gamal imagined what he hoped the center would mean in a story Tuesday. "A landmark, an iconic building that will have people come and visit it from around the world," he said. "This looks like it is going to be the most famous community center in the world.""
    The motivation for putting the center there is obvious – to take advantage of the notoriety of 9-11. It's pure opportunism. The owners seem to be quite pleased with the controversy, which seems to have been the plan all long, and not atypical here in the land of reality TV.

    To put it in perspective, let's say some Christian nut job went to a Planned Parenthood clinic and shot 13 people. The clinic closes and then a church or pro-life clinic buys the site. They would claim that its OK for them to build there, no one in their right mind supports shooting people over abortion, and by having a place of worship/ pro-life counseling there it would heal the prior wounds. Regardless, I'm sure SOMEONE would think that was a bit insensitive. SOMEONE would imagine that "Christians" would eventually gather there and actually celebrate the fact that one less abortion clinic was in the world, and people might be offended.

    No matter how many peace-loving people come and celebrate the site, SOMEONE might imagine that sooner or later one or more radical Muslims would show up and actually celebrate the fact of 9-11 itself. Defeat of the Great Satan in the middle of the most famous economic center of the world. How else do you explain the attraction of the site? When I first read about the mosque controversy, I was expecting to see a statement that the owners were planning on having a memorial as part of the site. Something reiterating the somber nature of what happened there, and an object lesson for the Muslim faith vs the radicals. But I have seen no statement like this from the owners. Wouldn't this make a lot of difference in how people perceive the site? Like with my theoretical clinic shooting example, wouldn't it make a big difference if a monument was dedicated honoring the victims, declaring that killing people in the name of religion is never justified?

    I have lots of Muslim friends, great people. I have no problem with mosques anywhere they want to put them. But I do think the opportunism being displayed here is pretty insensitive, and people have a right to comment about it. Of course it will just end up making the site even more notorious and popular.

    August 18, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Marc

      Have you been to Lower Manhattan? Seen the crass commercialism because the WTC CONSTRUCTION site attracts tourists? Whetehr or not a mosque is built, some idiots will show up and "celebrate" whatever nut-fantasy they have, whether it's the "George Bush ordered 9/11" nonsense or whatever. I look at it this way – the terrorists didn't win. We are a great nation. If they want to build a mosque, build it. We don't care, because that's our way of life. Allowing this to go forward represents the TRIUMPH of our way of thinking. Turning it into a controversy supports bin Laden's way, and we are better than that – or at least I thought we were untiul the conservative movement went stupid.

      August 18, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • nick

      Guess What Gwhat.: you would be no friend of mine. Its nearly 1/4 mile away first of all. Secondly it will benefit the whole community 9there is a memorial you know). Oh but guess what you dont know because you like many others are speaking out of your butt. THE PEOPLE THAT WANT TO BUILD THE MOSQUE DIDNT BRING DOWN THE MOSQUE EITHER U IDIOT. THERE ARE OVER 1.6 BILLION MUSLIMS IN THE WORLD. IF EVEN ONE TENTH OF ONE PERCENT WERE TERRORISTS WE WOULD ALL BE DEAD !!! THERE ARE OVER 7 MILLION HERE WITH OVER 2000 MOSQUES. DONT BE AN IGNORANT FOOL. THOSE THAT BROUGHT DOWN THE TOWERS WERE FANATICS THAT WERE REVENGING US FOR WHAT EVER CRAP OUR FOOLISH COUNTRY PROBABLY DID TO THEM. WE HAVE A HISTORY OF SCREWING WITH COUNTRIES YA KNOW. MOST RECENTLY I R A Q. THEY WERE NOT EVEN INVOLVED IN 9/11 AND WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATHS OF AT LEAST 1 MILLION IRAQIS. WHO IS THE TERRORIST NOW? YOUR FEDUP AT THE WRONG FOLKS. BUILD THE MOSQUE. WE NEED IT.

      August 18, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  3. curious steve

    do you understand now the equation: the zionists = the neo-nazies?

    August 18, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  4. LatLong

    Read this, "A landmark, an iconic building that will have people come and visit it from around the world." this folks is their bragging rights, their prize and they are placing it very close to the victory. The definition of religion vs. the definition for a cult are being confused here. Build it and they will come.
    Why do you think the "church" is so adamant about remaining at this location??? If they were a real religion they would have love and compassion in their hearts and understand that this is the most insensitive gesture they could employ, and they would build elsewhere. But it's not about building elsewhere, it's about erecting the grandest of all mosques to show their community that they came and conquered.

    August 18, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Marc

      Really? And whose hand is moving your lips? Isn't that elbow joint a little uncomfortable?

      August 18, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • nick

      You are so stupid LatLong. Its so obvious you have no idea about Islam, Muslims or what is even going on.

      August 18, 2010 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  5. N

    I wish some of you people would get this through your thick skulls which apparently does not have a brain. This is not a mosque!!!!!! It is a community center that happens to have prayer rooms. My God people. Why are you so dumb

    August 18, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  6. TK

    The community center is being built, so you can all shut up. lol

    August 18, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jeremy

    The opponents of Park 51 regurgitate the same arguments over and over. They are all baseless.

    -Park 51 should not be built because it is "disrespectful" or "insulting"

    Park 51 is going to look like any other building in the area and will not even be visible from Ground Zero itself. The only way one could find it "disrespectful" is if one views the mere presence of Muslims or Islam within a certain distance of Ground Zero to be disrespectful.

    The notion that Muslim prayer space (or even an outright mosque) cannot be built within a certain distance of Ground Zero because its mere presence might offend someone is in itself disrespectful. It is profoundly insulting to all Muslims who do not support or condone terrorism in any way.

    -Why don't "they" just build somewhere else?

    Because "they" are not some shadowy group representing all Muslims who magically have access to all real estate New York. "They" are a group people who own a particular space and want to build on it. If you owned some land and wanted to build on it, and were told you had to find another spot, you would likely be pretty irate and demand a good reason. So far, the opponents of Park 51 haven't come up with one. Also, Park 51 is intended to serve the needs of Muslims who already worship in that area and lack sufficient prayer space. Should those people be forced out of the area as well?

    -It's a fact that Muslims build mosques on the site of their conquests!

    This "fact" is being repeated so often, without any attribution, that it has all the hallmarks of propaganda. The religious contours of the Middle East have changed throughout history, sometimes violently, and both Muslims and Christians are likely guilty of building places of worship where they have forced out their enemies. What's missing here is any indication whatsoever that Park 51 is intended to serve as some kind of monument to terrorism.

    -But Christians can't practice openly in Muslim theocratic countries! Why should we do Muslims any favors here?

    Because the U.S. does not discriminate on the basis of religion or nationality. Instead, everyone is able to do what they want with their property as long as they respect the law. Mayor Bloomberg understands this – and if he had any reason to suspect there was something illegal going on at Park 51, he would among the first people to act on that suspsicion.

    What's lacking here is any empathy with Muslims who have done nothing wrong. Just try to imagine the government saying you shouldn't be able to build or worship on your own land because terrorists supposedly share your religious beliefs. Try to imagine the government linking you to the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil because the monsters responsible for that attack claimed to be members of your religion. Keep in mind that the people leveling the accusations probably don't belong to your religion and may not even profess to understand it. You would probably think that such conduct is grossly unfair and cruel, not to mention un-American. But it's happening right now.

    August 18, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Marc

      Game. Set. Match. That's it, in a nutshell. I don't know when people started thinking that LOWERING yourself to the lowest common denonminator is somehow patriotic.

      August 18, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • nick

      AMEN JEREMY.

      August 18, 2010 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  8. N

    @dhsimbol....If you haven't noticed, this area where they want to put the community center is dead. Buildings have been vacant since 2001. So bring in a youth center could/would revitalize the area. The part of NY is like a ghost town now.

    August 18, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  9. Gordo

    Remember the float in the parade that honnored many terrorist? That's what you're dealing with in NYC......best of luck people. We will from a distance hope you all get wise, and never let this ONE mosque be build on this land and insult all americans. These Muslims Terrorist are laughing at you, laughing at you, laughing at you. The entire religion thought, and taught is to take over the world, So I guess it like Pinky and the Prohet.

    August 18, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      That's right, terrorists are laughing at us. But not for the reasons you suggest. They are laughing because we are displaying hatred toward all Muslims and ignorance of their religion. They are laughing because we are giving them just the material they need to paint the U.S. as an evil oppressor of Islam. They are laughing because we are helping them recruit more the suicide bombers of tomorrow. They are laughing at you.

      August 18, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      I have to wonder why the right-wing conservatives in this country are so desperate to increase recruitment for terrorist organizations. Maybe they want to make sure the wars never end. More bodies = more money for the military industry!

      August 18, 2010 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • nick

      GORDO: Go back to Mac Donalds and have a BIG MAC GORDO. Because after all since your a Gordo you must be FAT and eat at Mac Donalds Right? Dont paint all 1.6 BILLIONS MUSLIMS WITH THE SAME BRUSH YOU MORON.

      August 18, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  10. Don

    I don't have a problem with them building it. Freedom of religion and all that. But when they refuse to entertain another site offered to them for the publicity knowing full well how it is affecting some members of the community, it starts to come off as being arrogant and insensitive.

    You're treading on thin ice here, El-Gamal. As it is the people's responsibility to be tolerant of your beliefs, it is your responsibility not to step on any toes when creating this controversial site. It has the potential to do great good on both a spiritual and community level, and more. Don't start things off on the wrong foot by happily eating up the publicity your choice of site has drummed up.

    August 18, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Marc

      It's the responsibility of a real estate developer to drum up traffic to increase the value of an investment by getting others to invest in the area based upon an "anchor." If that's "ice," Lower Manhattan is Lake Erie in January.

      August 18, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  11. NYC Dave

    "This looks like it is going to be the most famous community center in the world." – Sharif el-Gamal

    – Yeah, something tells me that's not going to be "famous" in a good way. Who's going to be paying for all the extra security that's going to be needed to keep this place safe for all, including the neighbors of this "community center"?
    Obviously it was the intent of this developer to cause a nation-wide stir with this location selection. There are plenty of spaces available further up Church St. that won't be as controversial. It just sounds to me like an intentional invite to every whack-job in and out of NYC a place to vent their anger at?

    August 18, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  12. Michael, Chapel Hill

    Cordoba House? It is a place in Spain where Muslims built a Caliphate-It is the same Islamic Victory Monument.
    When Islam spread in India- the first thing-built a mosque in Ayodhaya-birth place of Krishna-the supreme Hindu God.
    Islam uses every means to win its case. if it is killing, it will do that, if tolerance is the way to win, they may do that, if we are friendly they will push in, if we are weak, they may subdue, if they could increase in numbers than the locals, they over run the local population to subdue, in the US, they use US laws against the US, in a window facilitated by the terrorist attacks.- like using the US planes to bring down US buildings. Eternal vigilance is the price for freedom.

    August 18, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  13. N

    Great post Jeremy!!

    August 18, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  14. Dhulfiqar

    In fairness, we've been building 'ground zeros' near Iraqi mosques since March 2003.

    August 18, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  15. frogman

    lol, you are one charming guy. I'll bet that your a lot of fun at parties. Its a shame that your mother taught you that its rude to call people names because you disagree with them.

    August 18, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
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