Not only is it not a Mosque, it’s not even being built on Ground Zero. The real name of this project is Park51 is a multifaith community centre, two blocks north of the site of NYC’s former World Trade Center. It’s named for a previous resident at that location, an old Park Place coat factory.
The following facts are pulled from the Park51.org website FAQ section:
What is Park51?
Park51 is an organization dedicated to providing recreational, cultural and social services to the Lower Manhattan community. Our aim is to give back to the NYC community and help integrate the Muslim community within the fabric of American society. Whether it be education, social outreach, or physical fitness, Park51 is here to enrich the lives of New Yorkers of all backgrounds and faiths.
Is Park51 a mosque? If so, can I pray there?
Park51 is not a mosque. It is a cultural and community center. You may pray at the adjacent PrayerSpace, which is a non-for-profit completely independent of Park51. The Community Center and the PrayerSpace share the same landlord, Soho Properties, Inc, whose partners serve on the board of Park51. For more information on the PrayerSpace please visit www.prayerspacenyc.org.
NYC Architects, SOMA, have proposed an amazing building as unique in the interior as it is on the façade. The exterior of the building (see pic) is to be a latticework effect incorporating geometric shapes of arabesque origin as well as reflecting symbols of other world faiths such as the Star of David. Viewed at night from the outside will be a remarkable lit up honeycomb. From the interior the latticework will throw stunning patterns of light into the building.
The amenities of the building will contain:
- A sports and fitness center
- A playground and childcare
- An Islamic prayer space
- A restaurant
- An exhibition space
- Artists studios
- A multi-faith memorial sanctuary dedicated to the events of 9/11
The vision of Park51 as written on their website is:
Park51 will be a vibrant and inclusive community center, reflecting the diverse spectrum of cultures and traditions, serving New York City with programs in education, arts, culture and recreation.
Inspired by Islamic values and Muslim heritage, Park51 will weave the Muslim-American identity into the multicultural fabric of the United States. We will foster cooperation and understanding between people of all faiths and backgrounds through relevant programs and initiatives.
The controversial “Mosque” is actually a prayer space to occupy two floors of the basement. It is reserved for Muslim prayer but is not a Mosque as the construction of the building does not satisfy the requirements of a Mosque.
So – is this an offensive idea to some? Yes – there are protestors picketing the space as I write this blog, and it is their right to do so. But I think that there is healing in adding this building to this particular space. America is founded on the principle of acceptance. The people building this space and the people who will enjoy it are not the people who created the destruction of 9/11. These are ordinary Americans who need a place to join together just like any other community. I’m all for it.