Two people who conceived it, an Egyptian-American real estate developer and an imam long involved in interfaith initiatives, Park51 was a simple but necessary project: one based on a Jewish community center on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Muslim Community Center. Space for worship, athletics and cultural events, open to the public.
But amid continued tensions and a rise in Islamophobia 10 years after 9/11, some politicians and some families of 9/11 victims opposed plans to build the center several blocks from the former World Trade Center site, calling it the “Ground Zero Mosque”. said. “
Opponents also suggested that the project was meant as a victory mark for Islamic extremists, although Muslims had long been part of the fabric of Lower Manhattan and the area lacked sufficient space for prayer. The ensuing media mayhem eventually foiled the plans.
Last week, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, apologized In an essay on CNN.com. The group set up to fight religious prejudice had insisted on a separate location for the mosque.
The Cordoba House, an organization founded by Imam Feisal Rauf, welcomed the apology. The developer, Sharif El Gamal, declined to comment. But his sister Jasmine M. L. Gamal, who was a Middle East adviser to the Defense Department during the controversy, received a mixed response on Saturday.
“It takes courage to admit a mistake,” she said. “But there is an important missing piece in the apology: why the ADL opposed Park51. It was Islamophobia and the fear of standing up against it. Muslims were bad for politics after 9/11.
M / s. El Gamal, who has written about his experiences as a translator Guantanamo Bay, said 9/11 is doubly painful because “Muslims were targeted by extremists and blamed for extremists.”
“We were, and remain, caught between a rock and a hard place,” she said, “used as pawns and proxies to make a bigger issue or start a bigger conflict.”