September 20th, 2011
By Daily Mail Reporter Last updated at 8:57 PM on 19th September 2011
The first part of Park51, the controversial Lower Manhattan Islamic community centre, is opening on Wednesday with an art exhibition featuring photographs of children. Just a few blocks away from the site where the Twin Towers once stood, the exhibition marks Park51’s first big public event.
It comprises portraits of children from 169 countries who now live in New York and its opening coincides with the United Nations’ International Day of Peace. Controversial space: The buildings that are to become the Park51 mosque and cultural centre, just two blocks from where the twin towers stood before the 9/11 terror attacks
Katerina Lucas, Park51’s chief of staff, said: ‘It is a huge step forward. I hope it shows we are about inclusion, not exclusion. When plans to build a high-rise Islamic institution were announced last year, critics angrily pointed out that it was insensitive to have the mosque so close to the site attacked by Islamic extremists. There was heated opposition from various politicians and some families of 9/11 victims.
Opening the show: A photographic exhibition by Danny Goldfield, his photo above, featuring portraits of children from 169 countries is Park51’s first public event There had been rumours that the project had been put on hold, but Park51’s photography exhibit shows it is quietly moving forward.
The project has rasied $70,000 raised in under two months via KickStarter.com, a funding platform for creative projects. The developers, led by Park51 Chairman Sharif El-Gamal, have hired a staff of six and continue to hold Muslim prayers at the space just north of ground zero.
See link to Park51 Mosque “kickstarter program” and VIDEO , CLICK HERE. The video shows the interior of the Park51 Mosque with the walls newly sheet-rocked and taped and mudded prior to application of paint. Radical anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller appears to be wasting everyone’s time with her show boating, the Mosque is moving forward.
Developer Sharif El-Gamal
But they are not setting a timeline for construction. In June, El-Gamal parted ways with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the cleric who had been the public face of Park51, over a difference in vision.
Rauf is now focusing his energy on establishing a Muslim centre in Chautauqua, New York. Park51’s planners say they are committed to their original Lower Manhattan location and are looking to raise $7 to $10 million in financing.
Miss Lucas said: ‘We have broken some ground, but there are still many hurdles. She said the upcoming photography exhibition is about showcasing the diversity of New York City, which includes Muslims.
‘Islam is not about extremism,’ she said. ‘We can have a meaningful dialogue across religions.’ It’s a message shared by Danny Goldfield, the Brooklyn artist behind the exhibit. He got the idea for his children-focused series while driving from Los Angeles to New York in 2003, right after the war in Iraq started.
El-Gamal said: ‘I met Danny Goldfield when Park51 was still a new idea. I said his photographs should be the first event at Park51. ‘I am proud to say the idea has been realized. Opening this incarnation of the community centre is a fantastic accomplishment.’
Mr Goldfield photographed children living in New York City’s five boroughs from countries all over the world. While his pictures have been on display before, this is the first time he has shown them all at once. The exhibition will be open for nearly three months. More than 700 people have been invited to the opening.
Radical blogger Pamela Geller in New York City appears to have had no luck in stopping the Park51 Mosque from moving forward.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center a watchdog group that monitors radical hate groups, New Report Details Funding Sources Behind Anti-Muslim Fearmongers. The rising tide of Islamophobia in the United States is not a natural or spontaneous outgrowth of popular fear of Muslim fundamentalist terrorism, nor is it the product of a vast right-wing conspiracy. Rather, it is the design of “a small, tightly networked group of misinformation experts guiding an effort that reaches millions of Americans through effective advocates, media partners, and grassroots organizing,” according to a powerful investigative report released today by the progressive think tank Center for American Progress (CAP).
Entitled “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” the 130-page report asserts that five “experts” are primarily responsible for the dissemination of false facts and materials used by political leaders, grassroots groups and the media to generate unreasonable fears about Muslims and Islam. Since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, seven foundations have provided over $42 million in support for this focused campaign, the report determined.
“This small network of people is driving the national and global debates that have real consequences on the public dialogue and on American Muslims,” the report said. “Due in part to the relentless efforts of this small group of individuals and organizations, Islam is now the most negatively viewed religion in America.”
The five key misinformation experts identified by the report: Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy (see also here); David Yerushalmi at the Society of Americans for National Existence (see also here); Daniel Pipes at the Middle East Forum; Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch and Stop Islamization of America (see also here), and Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
Their research – which is routinely exaggerated, deceptively selective or outright false – empowers key “grassroots” activists, particularly Brigitte Gabriel of ACT! for America, Pamela Geller of Stop Islamization of America (see also here and here), and David Horowitz of the David Horowitz Freedom Center; and a small group of “validators” of Middle Eastern extraction, including Nonie Darwish, Zuhdi Jasser, Walid Phares and Walid Shoebat, the report said.
Bill Warner Sarasota Private Investigator on Sex, Crime, Cheaters and Terrorism at www.wbipi.com