Controversial New York Islamic Center Opens…Without Controversy

Saturday, September 24, 2011
Anti-Islamic Center protest in Manhattan in 2010 (photo: Aaron Wallechinsky)
Where did all the hate go?
A year ago, when news leaked out about the development of an Islamic community center in New York City only a couple blocks away from the former World Trade Center towers, the vitriol was overflowing. Conservative pundits lashed out at what they called the “Ground Zero Mosque,” while protesters took to the city’s streets denouncing the idea as insensitive to the survivors of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the memory of those who died that day.
One year later and the center is now open … without any outcry. Muslims and non-Muslims are welcome at the facility, which offers a prayer space among other amenities. "We are building a community center that’s going to be open to all people,” explained Sharif El-Gamal, the center’s developer. “ It is based on Islamic values and heritage ... just like a YMCA,"
El-Gamal admitted he made a big mistake in 2010 by not involving the families of 9/11 victims during the early planning. But he credited better public relations for smoothing over the controversy and allowing the center to open without incident. Others suspect that it is just a matter of the hate wing of the conservative movement moving on to other targets.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Once-Controversial Islamic Center Opens in New York (by Tina Susman, Los Angeles Times)
Ground Zero Mosque Opened to Public Wednesday (by Karen Zraick and Verena Dobnik, Associated Press)
America Under Stress—Manhattan Mosque Rallies (by Aaron Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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