Ground Zero Mosque Property Developer Comes Out
by Stephen Schwartz
Sharif El-Gamal, owner of Soho Properties. Inc., purchaser of the buildings near Ground Zero that have been slated for transformation into a 15-story mosque has come before the public, via CNN, to argue in favor of the project, known as "Cordoba House."
Watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNJm4y4BYiE
Nearly every statement El-Gamal made in this video can be rebutted.
Asked by CNN's Deborah Feyerick why there is no provision for a Buddhist, Jewish, or Christian prayer space within the planned structure, El-Gamal says "this [Islamic cultural center] is a need that exists," then insists "there is a need – it's supply and demand – the community wants this."
But El-Gamal is clearly wrong. Manhattan Island has eight functioning mosques affiliated with Sunni and Shia Islam. Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and New Jersey have dozens more. Many are also called "Islamic Centers" or "Islamic Cultural Centers."
Asked about the link between Islam and the attacks on the Twin Towers, El-Gamal complains that "the moderate voice of Islam is not coming out" and praises the project's public face, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf as "one of the most moderate Muslims… in this country today."
Whether 9/11 defines Islam, some Islamic leaders were involved in its planning, commission, and support after the fact. (Just as some Christian leaders were involved in the terror wars in Northern Ireland, though it was obviously not Christianity.) Imam Rauf himself told 60 Minutes soon after 9/11, "I wouldn't say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened."
If Sharif El-Gamal truly wants to establish a place for moderate Islam, it would be more appropriate for him to use his assets and influence to change the leadership of some of the region's Wahhabi-controlled "Islamic Centers," like the notorious Westbury Mosque on Long Island, a hotbed of radical Islam with which Imam Rauf is linked.