New York City, NY — New plans for a Muslim cultural center in the Financial District have been filed, years after the original proposal spurred fierce backlash from opponents furious that the site was so close to the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Sharif El-Gamal, the developer behind the project, this time plans a smaller center than the 15-story building he had originally envisioned at 51 Park Place. El-Gamal, the founder of Soho Properties, is currently working on a luxury condominium tower at neighboring 45 Park Place.
An application filed with the city’s buildings department last week outlines a plan for a “new education and exhibition and gallery building” that would be 5,000 square feet. It doesn’t include a mosque. Real Estate Weekly was first to report on El-Gamal’s new plans.
The developer had originally designed it to be community space similar to the 92nd Street Y, the Jewish community center that hosts a variety of public events.
The planned center, which was previously named Park51, caused a backlash after the plans were first announced in 2010. The center was nicknamed the “Ground Zero Mosque” and found a vocal opponent in current President Donald Trump.
Trump, at the time a real estate developer in New York City, said that it would be “wrong” for the cultural center to be built on Park Place and offered $20 million to buy the property.
The application filed last week did not have additional details about the cultural center. People working on the project did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Patch seeking more information.
El-Gamal told the New York Times in May that he still planned to build the cultural center, saying that the smaller space would still accomplish his original vision.
“We are still building an Islamic museum and sanctuary,” he told the newspaper.
“Describing the controversy as ‘a fabricated issue,’ Mr. El-Gamal, who received death threats at the time, insisted that the scaled-down museum would still achieve his original objective. ‘We are still building an Islamic museum and sanctuary,’ he said.” A “sanctuary”? In this context, that’s a mosque.
And sure, he received death threats. Always claiming victim status. I myself have received numerous death threats that I can readily document. I challenge El-Gamal to document his claim, which the New York Times, of course, repeats uncritically.
The Islamic museum at Ground Zero is just as much of an insult to those who were killed there as the 16-story mega-mosque that El-Gamal originally planned would have been. If it were an honest Islamic museum, showing the true history of jihad conquest and exposing the motivating ideology of the 9/11 jihad mass murderers, it would be welcome and even necessary. But it is sure to be a whitewash. When is the museum dedicated to the achievements of Nazi Germany going up at Auschwitz?