The conflict of the Ground Zero mosque has become one of the fiercest religious based debates in recent years. One of the most influential men in the debate is Feisal Abdul Rauf. Rauf is the Imam (leader in prayer) at the current New York City mosque just a few blocks away from the proposed location of the future mosque. He has put a lot of time and money into this proposed mosque and does not plan to give up on it. Another key person in this issue is Sharif El-Gamal, the CEO of Soho Properties. Soho Properties is the company who purchased the lot where they plan to build the mosque, and who is overseeing the hiring and funding to complete the project.
Sharif and Feisal have been business partners in the past and are working together again on this mosque. Without Soho Properties, the construction of this mosque would not be feasible. With every issue, there are those who support it and those who oppose it. In this particular matter, the main people who both support and oppose it are politicians. The key political supporters are Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Barack Obama. Bloomberg is the mayor of New York City and says this Islamic group has the Constitutional right to worship wherever they choose. The leading politicians who oppose this mosque are Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich. Newt Gingrich is best known for comparing Ground Zero to Pearl Harbor. All of these politicians’ views are important in that they represent the American people and must take into consideration the poll numbers for the upcoming election. History/Background Information Soho Properties purchased the property at Park Place for $4.85 million in July 2009 (Fung).
The projected cost of this mosque is expected to be around $100 million, making it the most costly mosque in America. Information has yet to be released as to where the funding will come from. This structure has many different names such as: Ground Zero mosque, Cordoba House, and Park51. It was originally named the Cordoba House, which referred to Cordoba, Spain in the 8th-11th Century when Christians, Muslims, and Jews lived peacefully together. The Muslims eventually seized the area and had complete control. After much controversy about its initial name, its official name later became Park51, referring to its address on Park Place.
The media has referred to this mosque has the Ground Zero mosque, being that it is so close to Ground Zero. In addition to the mosque, Park51 will also be a community center. The thirteenstory building is planned to contain amenities for anyone to enjoy. Some of these amenities include: a 500-seat auditorium, a theater, a fitness center, a swimming pool, a basketball court, childcare services, art exhibitions, a culinary school, a bookstore, and a food court (Park51). However, to enjoy these amenities there will be an annual fee, of which the cost has yet to be released. Controversies One of the benefits of living in America is the freedom of religion. The people who support the construction of Park51 are using the Constitution as a foundation for their reasoning of support. President Obama shows his support for this mosque by saying they have the right to worship wherever they choose to do so. As far as the location goes, supporters are questioning how far from Ground Zero they must go for it to be okay with the American people.
Feisal Abdul Rauf wants to build this mosque in the name of peace and to promote better relations between Muslim and the American people. Rauf says he did not realize this kind of hostility would occur in America, and if he had known this from the beginning, he would have never started the Park51 project. The main reason for opposing this mosque is the location of it being too close to Ground Zero. Those who oppose it do not necessarily oppose mosques in America, since there are over 23,000 of them. Rather, they oppose it being near a location where Islamic terrorists attacked America nine years ago on 9/11. Many Muslim-Americans, such as Raheel Raza, say building this mosque would be a slap in the face to America. Also, there are a lot of mysteries behind this mosque such as where the funding is going to come from.
Rauf has said he is going to release where all the funds are coming from, but has yet to even after many requests. Many are led to believe that Radical Extremists are providing funds, and the Park51 group has neither confirmed nor denied these allegations. The biggest person opposing this project is Newt Gingrich. He is quoted on the record many times saying this building is going to be looked at as a victory mosque for the terrorists. The people opposing this project have compared this situation to that of when the Catholic nuns built a convent in Auschwitz to honor those who were killed, and had no intentions other than peaceful ones, just like the Park51 leaders. The Jewish community became very hostile and started protesting and causing riots. When Pope John Paul heard about this aggression, he asked the nuns to vacate the land to maintain peace.
Those against this mosque raise the question: “If the nuns were so willing to give up what they were doing in the name of peace, why can’t these Park51 mosque leaders do the same?” Whatever the outcome of this controversy, there will always be people who are for and against the building of the Ground Zero mosque.
Fung, Amanda. “Mosque Madness a Matter of Perspective.” Crain’s New York Business. 25 July 2010. Web. 08 Nov. 2010. . Park51 Community Center. “Park51 Facilities.” Web log post. Park51. Web. 15 Sept. 2010. .
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