# # # BREAKING NEWS – July 4, 2011, 4:42pm EDT # # #
Ground Zero mosque to move, source says
The news comes on July 4th — America’s Independence Day — and as a surprise to many, who believed the controversial project would eventually be constructed at the site of a former Burlington Coat Factory located on 45–51 Park Place.
Park51 owner, real estate developer Sharif El-Gamal, pledged to move forward despite opposition. It’s not known what provoked the move or if a new location exists. Previous offers to relocate the project were rejected.
The Ground Zero mosque, as it has been labeled, is viewed by some to be a shrine to the deadly September 11th attacks. While supporters stress the project was neither a mosque nor at Ground Zero, the building itself, between West Broadway and Church Street, was structurally compromised in the attacks.
The proposed mosque has been a source of tension, sparking anger and debate over First Amendment rights, since a New York City community board approved the project in May 2010. Politicians from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to President Barack Obama have weighed in. Protests in Manhattan and across the nation have emphasized a split in opinion fiery in its opposition, while threatened and actual burnings of the Koran have incited violence worldwide.
[Correcting: "New York City community board" to "Lower Manhattan Community Board." Adding proposed new location, background detail, quotes].
# # # BREAKING NEWS – July 4, 2011, 5:13pm EDT # # #
Ground Zero mosque to move, source confirms
NEW YORK — Developers of the Muslim community center planned to be built two blocks from the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan have announced the project will be relocated, it can be confirmed. The news comes as a July 4th surprise to many who believed the controversial project would be constructed as intended at 45–51 Park Place, site of a former Burlington Coat Factory.
Real estate developer and Park51 project owner Sharif El-Gamal had pledged to build the mosque, originally known as “Cordoba House,” despite working against very heated opposition. A source close to ownership confirmed that a formal announcement would be made soon, not today, “so that we all may enjoy our July 4th picnics and festivities, uninterrupted,” he said.
The “Ground Zero mosque,” as it has been labeled, had been envisioned by some as a victory symbol in light of its proximity to the deadly September 11th attacks. Plans originally intended for groundbreaking or opening the mosque to coincide with 9/11 anniversaries were seen by many as caustic. However, Soho Properties and supporters of the project deny these claims, while stressing that the project is neither a mosque nor at Ground Zero.
The building itself, located between West Broadway and Church Street, was structurally compromised during the attacks by part of the landing gear, engine and fuselage from United Airlines Flight 175, after it struck the South Tower at 9:03 a.m. The new location will be on Cortland Street, just off Broadway.
“That’s great news. I lost a brother on 9/11, about time they came to their senses,” Staten Island resident Mickey Bell said. “I know they can legally build it there but it’s a matter of, I don’t know … decency. It’d be like planting a Confederate flag at Martin Luther King’s grave. I mean, First Amendment, yeah, you can do it — legally – but common decency says you don’t.”
Marcia Wainhouse of Queens assumed the mosque would never be built at the Park location. “You’d think with all the bureaucracy and building delays in lower Manhattan, all that red tape would make it hard enough to build a Burlington Coat Factory on the site of a former Burlington Coat Factory, let alone a mosque.”
The proposed mosque has sparked anger and debate over First Amendment rights, ever since the Lower Manhattan Community Board approved the project in May 2010. Politicians from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to President Barack Obama have weighed in. Protests in Manhattan and across the nation have only emphasized a fierce split in opinion, while threatened and actual burnings of the Qur’ān have incited violence worldwide.
“First it was a mosque, then it wasn’t a mosque; then it’s a community center; it’ll have a swimming pool so it’s really an aquatic center,” said David Hough, from Lower Tribeca.” They push all the right buttons, somewhere it became a non-profit. Sure, there’ll be prayer space but it’s really just a bookstore with a coffee shop. It’s a YMCA. And it’s an environmentally responsible, sustainable structure that self-composts, but really, it’s a day care center for special needs kids. Maybe a little, what you’d call, ‘Bible study’ on the side. But it’s cool, it’s all good. They won’t even tell us who’s funding it. It’s ridiculous.”
Other New Yorkers say it’s a sad day highlighted by mob rule, suggesting the outrage which led to Park51′s move was misguided and motivated by politics.
“When you have Fox News and Rush Limbaugh drumming up this type of hatred, this is what you get,” said Rachel Agosto of Brooklyn Heights. “It’s okay to have a strip club around the corner and churches everywhere but one mosque? It’s not as if there aren’t already mosques in Manhattan and the proposed location wasn’t even in line of sight of the Trade Center. The entire argument against the project was an overreaction hyped up by an Islamophobic, conservative media.”
An outraged Kelly Liebrandt, from Marble Hill, went further. “Why shouldn’t we be surprised? This is the same ‘religion of peace’ that will cut your head off if you don’t agree with them. The testimony of a woman is worth half what a man’s is in the Muslim world,” she said. “Islam means ‘submit.’ They won’t be happy until we all adopt Sharia Law.”
The source speaking on behalf of Park51 urged patience, saying “we should wait for the announcement before jumping to conclusions and spreading lies.” He also confirmed reports that the new center will feature an air hockey table, Pilates instruction and a vegan snack bar.
For updates: Twitter.com/Park51. Official Twitter account, Park51 non-profit lower Manhattan Islamic community center.
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