The Muslim shrine to victory on 9/11 cleverly changes its name.
Cordoba House mosque near Ground Zero slaps new name on itself with Park51
The Cordoba House is now Park51. Developers behind the controversial 13-story Islamic community center and prayer space near Ground Zero announced Tuesday a bland new name for the project. Spokesman Oz Sultan said the new name puts emphasis on the community center aspect of the project rather than religion. The name was derived from the address of the planned new building, 51 Park Place.
But the new moniker did little to quell an angry crowd of nearly 100, who turned a Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing yesterday into a turf war over the project. Up for debate was the architectural and historical significance of the existing building, which developers hope to replace with a 13-story community center and Islamic prayer space.
But the public testimony quickly dissolved into racially charged tirades against the project, with supporters accusing their detractors of “Islamophobia.” “People were murdered on 9/11 because the terrorists believed in the power of Islam,” said Sierra Rose, 19, of Manhattan.
“Anybody who is an American knows what caused those people to attack us on 9/11 was their religion,” Rose added. Scott Caruthers, a 9/11 first responder, said the current building’s proximity to Ground Zero makes it worthy of protection. Landmark designation would prohibit developers of the project from demolishing the existing building.
“This structure is of historical significance, not just to this city, but to the country as a whole, and indeed to the rest of the free world fighting the cancer of religious extremism,” said Caruthers, 37. Project developer Sharif el-Gamal testified the 152-year-old commercial building simply doesn’t deserve protection.
“This is not the Woolworth Building. This is not the Chrysler Building. This building does not warrant individual landmark status,” he said. Commissioners will debate the matter in private, then vote on whether to proceed or remove it from consideration at a public meeting later this summer.
Gamal said the vitriol at yesterday’s hearing showed the urgent need for an Islamic center in New York City. “I see this as more of a reason for this project to move forward,” he said. Nazir Siddiqui, 60, of Inwood said he was pleased to see “democracy in action” at the meeting. “My city has a lot of beautiful buildings,” he said. “Let’s add one more – this mosque.”
By calling it “Cordoba”, they have already tipped their hand, I don’t care what they choose to rename this mosque. Folks, we’ve only got this once chance to stop it. Once this monstrosity goes up, it’s not coming down. Ever. SIGN THE PETITION.