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August 8th, 2010
10:15 AM ET

Developer behind 'ground zero' Islamic center: 'This is not about the World Trade Center'

[cnn-video url= http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2010/08/08/chernoff.sharif.intv.cnn%5D

Q: Why not have this center a little further away from the World Trade Center instead of just two blocks right there? There probably wouldn’t be much opposition…

A: This is not about the World Trade Center. This is not about a particular location.

This is about a need that exists within the Lower Manhattan community and its need that exists within the Muslim community to have a community and a cultural center. And it’s pretty hard finding real estate in New York

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Houses of worship • Interfaith issues • Islam • Mosque • Muslim

soundoff (433 Responses)
  1. Mikola

    I suppose that in theory, it is possible to be so absent of cultural sensitivity, common sense and history to make the statements El-Gamel is making. It would seem unlikely anyone could be so insensitive to the people who died in this most famous acts of terrorism. It seems well timed that our goofy leader in Iran has taken the time to claim the results of 9/11 have ben exagerated. El-Gamel is either an agent of bin Laden or possibly one of the most uneducated individuals in the world. The goal here is for one thing: To spit in the eye of America.

    You want something to work on? Trace the money that is being used to fund the project. Don't let them tread on sacred ground. Stop them!

    August 8, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
  2. Zahra

    Islam is the truth and the peace, no matter how much some people may oppose or argue it.
    You cannot judge and argue except in knowledge. Taking few verses out of context can explain whatever your desire is, but THAT is not representing what Islam is. Indeed misguidance is very dangerous.
    Whoever is seeking the truth, may Allah guide him/her. Otherwise let them enjoy their wander for a while. No human is created to live forever, and the Reckoning Day is a hard day indeed for whoever's balance of good deeds is light.
    As many people agreed in this comment section, more and more peole are reverting to Islam – Praise be to Allah.

    August 8, 2010 at 8:11 pm |
  3. barbara

    See that is part of the problem, they can't understand why New Yorkers and Americans are STILL upset about 911. Get this mofo out of our country. The mosque that was built in London is now a know meeting place for extremists. Great... so we're giving them an on-site office space (tax free of course because it's a religious building) so they can plan their next attack.... and see the targets right from their windows!

    August 8, 2010 at 7:49 pm |
  4. Alam

    It is true that some masses have brought a bad image about Islam and it happened in America when women asking for their rights were executed as witches in past.Like wise in some Muslim countries ,certain local rituals and ignorance has been going on for years and years and are presented or taken as Islamic teachings. During the life of Prophet Muhammed ,women were treated very fairly and with respect.His own wife Khadija was a respected businesswomen and there are no tradition as so far that any of the women were ill-treated by him or any of his companions.I have no idea from where this ill-treatment of women came from.People in Afghanistan cut some girls nose and rest of us called it Islamic. Show me a verse from Quran or from the sayings or traditions of the Prophet, where he has himself or any of his companions have committed any mistreatment or incited any hatred against women .We as Americans are very short-sighted and especially stereotype, very eager to jump on decisions and judgements. We need to learn and educate ourselves first and then call others ignorant. 911 tragedy is part of our country and no doubt people from every religion were killed but if we oppose the mosque then we are no different from those who carried out the 911 tragedy.Because those who carried out 911 tragedy widely believed used to hate us as a nation and now we are doing the same thin.How we are better then them.Calling ourselves the enlightened one and behaving like the same as the 911 plotters is as shameful and disgusting as those 911 plotters were.Jesus used to spread love and the followers of Jesus are spreading hatred, burning Koran.Is that all right. Think over it and be cool, for truth is gonna prevail and not injustice . God Bless America

    August 8, 2010 at 7:33 pm |
    • Proud American

      In the Muslim tradition, there is also an incident when an adulteress is brought before the prophet Muhammed as he was in the oasis of Khaybar. Sonic Jews brought before him a woman caught in the act of adultery. They asked him what they should do, so he called for a copy of the Torah. Since the Torah formally stated that the adulteress should be stoned, he ordered her to be stoned. In Islam, obedience to the Law comes before everything.

      August 10, 2010 at 8:00 am |
  5. Pierre Alexes

    What is YOUR interpretation of a "moderate" muslim?

    August 8, 2010 at 7:16 pm |
    • big picture

      There is no such thing as a 'moderate muslim' – only a dormant one. When Hitler was striving for power in the 30's, there were Germans who hated the Nazis but did nothing to stop them. One morning they woke up and the crazies controlled the government. Did the moderates rise up against them? No. In the end they fully supported the war and Hitler BECAUSE they were Germans.

      August 9, 2010 at 11:29 am |
  6. Patrick from Minnesota

    This is not about "desecrating a sacred American landmark" in the words of my governor, Tim Pawlenty, it's about real estate. That location just happens to be the most convenient piece of available land for those facilities in Lower Manhattan, which just happens to be 2 blocks from Ground Zero. Get over it.

    August 8, 2010 at 7:15 pm |
  7. Bill

    Does the muslim community have the RIGHT to establish their center near Ground Zero? Of course. However, if they have have RESPECT for their fellow Americans, they would recognize how controversial this is and choose to locate somewhere else in the area. So, since they are not relocating, I am rightfully assuming that they are quite willing to assert their RIGHTS, without any regard to RESPECT for others. That, in turn, reinforces my belief that the perspective of many muslims is: 'I want what I want, and to hell with you.'. Is this really the message the muslim community wants to convery? I sure hope not...

    August 8, 2010 at 7:10 pm |
  8. john catao

    Let me put a end to this discussion. MUSLIMS will sacrifice their family for religion. What is more important than family. Nothing. Apparently for muslims ISLAM is more important than even family. What else can you say more.
    How can you trust people with this kind of ideology who might even sacrifice their family for religion. Will they care about non-muslim strangers then?

    August 8, 2010 at 7:05 pm |
    • Kevin

      I think maybe you have forgotten about a certain event in the Bible. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac to God. That he was prevented from doing by an Angel changes nothing about the fact that he was going to do it. Just a thought. Source – Genesis 22:1-24

      August 8, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  9. Wert

    Up until 1965, we had quotas for immigrants that varied from country to country. The radical idea behind that was that immigrants from countries with a culture similar to our own would blend more easily into our society. Then, along came the Butcher of Chappaquidick (still 4 years from earning that title). He convinced his liberal Democrat buddies (who then, as now, had hugh majorities in both houses of Congress) that we were "better than that" and that the country quotas should be abolished. To those who argued that abolishing the country quotas would bring about a flood of people from the Middle East and Latin America, Teddy said "tush, tush" that wouldn't really happen. Actual immigration patterns would stay about the same but, we would be doing the "right thing". Anyone notice any changes in the ethnic makeup of the United States in the last 45 years? Our country is being overrun by people who hate us and half the population is whining that not enough mosques are being built because Americans don't understand the "true Islam". Pardon me while I vomit.

    August 8, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
  10. JUSTICETO ALL

    Those that make arguements that this Mosque helps combat terrorist go against the facts. Almost all terrorist met or were incouraged in a Mosque. The common thread of most terrorist is ISLAM. Hence do away with ISLAM and you will reduce islamic terrorist.

    August 8, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
    • Wert

      We all know that BUT, it's not cool to actually say it.

      August 8, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
    • Patrick from Minnesota

      And to do away with Neo-Nazi Christian influenced terrorism (Oklahoma City bombing), we need to get rid of the NEO-NAZIS!

      August 8, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
  11. jamesnyc

    Sharif El-Gamal is a disingenuous liar. He knows exactly where this building is and everybody has to protest LOUDLY. Any politician who dares fight for this place should be thrown out of office and that includes Bloomberg.

    August 8, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  12. TRUTH

    When the trumpet sounds, I am pretty sure it wont by Muhammed who comes back. Then all sinners will have to answer – answer for our wrongdoings and answer why you chose not to believe Jesus Christ is THE SON OF GOD.

    August 8, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  13. jamesnyc

    The only thing this developer gains is pockets full of money. Islam does not separate the law from the religion. It must be willing to give up sharia law to be compatible with American culture. We should not allow this mosque to be built.

    August 8, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  14. rand

    If we build it they will come...................

    August 8, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  15. C

    I find it hilarious that none of the protesters are ever from NY itself, yet they think they 'own' a little piece of 9/11 to protest on behalf of. I also find it hilarious that they're too stupid to recall that it isn't being built _AT_ ground zero, but a few blocks away. What a bunch of uninformed fanatics.

    August 8, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
    • jamesnyc

      I am from New York and I was downtown on 9/11 trapped in a building that was engulfed in the debri cloud. I had to walk out of the financial district that was covered in pulverized building and pulverized people. I say no to this mosque. I don't like the ideology that has repeatedly shown itself in Islam. When the Islamists get off their butts and turn in Bin Laden or renounce Sharia law and it's barbarity and stop murdering their own women, then maybe I'll listen. As far as this building being close to ground zero, it is close. I passed it everyday on the way to work. It's only 2 blocks from Ground Zero. As one person said a wing from one of the planes clipped it. It used to house Burlington Coat Factory until it got flooded out.
      So there goes your argument. Do not build a mosque near GROUND ZERO.

      August 8, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
  16. FeelSorryforMuslims

    I suggest that every muslim ask himself/herself these questions – are you better off in this country? why did you leave your country in the first place? do you think you will enjoy life back home the way you have it here (if so then why don't you leave)? why do you rock the boat everywhere you go? have you heard of the saying – when in Rome, do as Romans do (atleast to a large extent)?

    For once, why don't you stop and ponder about some of these things. I really feel sorry for you because in this free society and in a nation such as the U.S., you still seem to be tied down by your antiquated religious beliefs and this paranoia that everyone is against you. Wake up ....

    August 8, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  17. john catao

    Brain washed muslim people turn on a dime for religion. For now everything is good and when they group together then they will do anything for religion.

    August 8, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  18. Robotron65

    Ask the developer of the project, and he will likely say whatever he can say to ensure one thing in the end. Profit.

    August 8, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  19. KarlU

    The Muslims are using our liberty against us. It is illegal and unconstitutional to prevent the construction of this building. That's because the Constitution was based on Judeo-Christian values. When cultures who do not respect those values infiltrate our borders, we have a catch-22.

    Islam is fundamentally incompatible with the first amendment. I always thought it was a catch-22 for the Muslims, but it appears that they have twisted things around so that it's a catch-22 for us.

    I'm not sure what recourse we have, but it might have to be civil disobedience. Our laws won't help us here. My gut says that Islam can erect a Cordoba house at ground zero just as soon as Christians can erect a cathedral in Mecca, and not a moment before.

    August 8, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
  20. erw

    It is very simple ..there is nothing called peace loving muslims or real islam.They are acting civilized and decent in USA,because there is no much choice.Once they have enough population,they will show the real nature.I am not an American,but thought of sharing this truth with you.

    August 8, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.