Islamic community center developer seeks federal funding
November 22nd, 2010
02:40 PM ET

Islamic community center developer seeks federal funding

Editor's Note: By CNN Senior Correspondent Allan Chernoff in New York.

The developer behind the controversial Islamic community center and mosque planned for Lower Manhattan has requested federal funding through the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to support the project known as Park51.

The funding would come from money the Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated to help rebuild the neighborhood after the 9/11 attacks.  "Park51 has applied for a Lower Manhattan Development Corporation grant," said Sharif El-Gamal, CEO of SOHO Properties, the developer behind the Islamic center.

In a statement, El-Gamal said the money would "in part fund social service programs such as domestic violence programs, Arabic and other foreign language classes, programs and services for homeless veterans, two multi-cultural art exhibits and immigration services."

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation received more than 265 applications seeking more than $175 million for community and cultural programs, though the LMDC has only $17 million of federal funding to allocate.

"We are now turning to the challenging but important task of sorting through the applications to identify those that address long-standing community and cultural needs," said Avi Schick, chairman of LMDC.

The grants will range from $100,000 to $1 million, according to Julie Menin, chair of Community Board 1 and a member of the LMDC board. Among the criteria used to judge applications, Menin said, are financial viability, job creation, revitalizing the community and a track record of service in Lower Manhattan.

"We have funded museums, public schools, programs to help small businesses hurt after 9/11," said Menin. An online report said Park51 had requested $5 million, but neither the developer nor LMDC board members would confirm that amount.

The LMDC plans to decide how to allocate the $17 million "towards the end of the first quarter of next year," said Menin.

Park51 has yet to raise significant funds for the community center located two blocks north of Ground Zero, a project that could cost $100-million.

"Park51 has not launched a formal fundraising program and is currently in the process of expanding its Board of Directors to plan, manage and oversee such efforts," said El-Gamal, adding that the project has not yet applied for federal tax-exempt status, but plans to do so "in the coming weeks."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • 9/11 • Houses of worship • Islam • Mosque • Muslim • New York • United States

soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Yin and Yang

    They're trying to tell us those who oppose Islam are racist and Islamophobes which share the same ideology as Hitler – Thats one CAIR and ISNA famous weapons that they throw at opponents. If you look back in history you just wonder who worked for the Nazi in Second World War that called for eradication of European Jewry. Who are those Arabs, Bosnian and some of those in Balkans that allied with the Third Reich? Talk about those who oppose Islam being racist, well just look at those famous name like Hassan Al-Banna, Mohammad Amin Al-Husseini, Rashid Ali and Ahmed Husayn who are allied of the third reich. Many arab Muslims supported the Nazi and the nazi influence in the arab world continue through the 1930s along with Muslim in the Balkans during 1940s. I'm not saying all Muslims are extremist but the majority continue to have empathy for those who commited violent Jihad even if they disagreed with their action as the majority of Muslim world continue condemn Israel and the free world more than they condemn Al-qaeda and its allies.

    In addition Muslim organization in the U.S., Europe and Canada generally considered their opponents as right-wing extremist. The Political Islam and those supported official Sharia can be regarded as right-wing in Islam itself and not everyone who oppose Islamist are right-wings and the term Islamophobia doesn't have a definition in reality but a term to silent opposition to political Islam.

    November 29, 2010 at 8:39 am |
  2. WarisLife

    now i know that our forefathers fought for freedom of religion, but they started by running the planes in to the " TWIN TOWERS" and they want to put there religious center les than 5 blocks from the site of 911, this is wrong and it will cause alot of troble for them and us but mostly for them im not racist im an realist.... look at it like this it would be like me coking out of no where an hitting u in the face with an base ball bat as hard as i can and u thanking me for it, its like spiting in our facee and lughing about it to i have m no more to share on this topic for now

    November 28, 2010 at 10:05 pm |
  3. Yin and Yang

    @ Muneef

    Correction: Pls read surah Albaraah (Chapter 9) ayat 23 not surah 9:89( that stated: The Allah Lalaland with Garden of flowing stream). LOL

    November 25, 2010 at 10:35 am |
  4. Yin and Yang


    Hello.....Are u still there or you're living in the world of confusion of principles. You still believe there's no compulsion in religion under Islam. Please scroll up and read my reply. In case you're still stuck in reading surah Albaqarah ayat 256 pls wake up and read surah An-Nisa(Chapter 4) Ayat 89 and Surah Al-Baraah (Chapter 9) ayat 89.LOL

    November 25, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  5. Keith

    These murderers condone throwing hand grenades into Jewish kindergartens. What heroes. Muslim cowards. I'm getting about sick and tired of these people getting in my face. I say feed imam Rauf a BLT and deport his a**. His whiny wife, too. While we're at it, get rid of CAIR, too.

    November 24, 2010 at 9:36 pm |
  6. Keith

    Where are all the weenies that always cry about 'the separation of church and state' on this one? Not one penny of our tax dollars should go to fund this dump. Then again, we are incredibly stupid and short sighted in this country nowadays. I think it's got something to do with being given over to a reprobate mind- one that cannot make decisions in its own best interest. We're screwed. .308, I think Cheaper Than Dirt has some good deals either tomorrow or the next day. Happy shopping!

    November 24, 2010 at 9:28 pm |
  7. test65


    November 24, 2010 at 9:05 pm |
  8. Enoch

    The Book of Daniel tells us that the Muslim world will trick the Western nations into their agenda. In order to cover up the investigation about the source of funding for the building, they simply go further and demand for federal funding. Of course, most of the reactions on the blog sound like "No public money, but the can do whatever they want with their own money, please not near Ground Zero, but anywhere else in NY... !". Well, neither money nor location have been their main problems - fighting for their agenda, convincing individuals and groups in a "peaceful" manner is what they are all trying to do...

    November 23, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
    • Peace2All


      The Book of Daniel...? Really...? You used that in relation to this conversation...?


      November 24, 2010 at 3:14 am |
  9. SciFi

    Time for some separation of church and state.

    No religious group should be funded by the government. If the their followers want the Mosque then they should be the ones that build it. I saw a Jehovah's Witness church go up in a city within one week because it was built by the church go-ers.

    Time for some sweat equity to show your care by not spending tax payor money that is needed elsewhere in our economy.

    November 23, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Well said...


      November 23, 2010 at 7:20 pm |
  10. GSA

    I have no problem with the building and the location, but taxpayers money should not be used. If all is done legally then fine but using taxpayers money for a building having anything to do with religion does not sit well with me.
    @PAGANGRL69 – why are you so afraid? You say many times that your nation is great...blah blah blah, then don't worry your great ppl and your great leaders will work things out just fine i'm sure, seeing as they have done so well over the course of American history (note the sarcasm).

    November 23, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
  11. Clement Bourg

    They invoke the First Amendment when people call upon the Government to stop construction and then they turn around and ask the Federal Government to help fund construction.

    You can't have it both ways!

    You wanna build it, then build it with your own money NOT my tax dollars!

    November 23, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
  12. MadPanda

    I am starting to think that they are rubbing our own system in our faces. They claim that this is for peace. -If it truly is, its time to stop pis-sing everyone off. You are hurting the Muslim people's image in our country. This is counterproductive to what you claim to be doing. Cut your losses. Or are you trying to get Americans to blow this place up, or reject it so we look bad to the rest of the world? I smell something fishy.

    I personally think that it is fully within their rights to do this, but it is disrespectful. You are aware that those who are responsible for 911 will see this as a victory for them, right? Even if you (normal Muslims) don’t see it that way, we are still letting the terrorists win. You are exercising your right, to build there, even though many feel VERY strongly apposed. You are saying that you don’t care what the American people hold sacred. This does not help with Muslim relations. This is why I am doubting the claimed reasoning behind this center.

    And I couldn't care less about religion of any kind so this is not a Jesus-Mohammed fight to me. I’m not worried about the spread of Islamic law here in America.-The American "Christians" are way to controlling to let that happen.-lol No offense intended to the real Christians sitting quietly.

    -From an atheist who thinks you are being dou-ches.

    November 23, 2010 at 11:57 am |
    • Peace2All


      Well said Panda...!!!!

      November 23, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
    • Muneef"786"

      With out peace? Hmmm

      November 23, 2010 at 8:36 pm |
    • telst


      November 24, 2010 at 9:06 pm |
  13. Frogist

    I have no problems with this if the money is not used to proselytize. Seems like the money is designated for rebuilding the community and that is what this building is supposed to be about. I doubt they will get 5 million since that is a significant chunk of the 17mil that is allocated by that organization. But if they are refused, I would wonder why.
    Seems to me also that Park51 is damned if they do and damned if they don't. All the outcry about questionable foreign investors has been replaced with "not with my taxes". So not from within, but not from without? Or is it just another drop in the "not for muslims" bucket? I support them. I said it then, and I say it now. You want freedom? Well it's for all. You want peace? Then you have to reach beyond your comfort zone. It's a push and a pull always. But the second they open up their organization for funding I'll be handing them a check because I believe in the project's usefulness in promoting diversity and revitalizing the community and promoting dialogue about religion.

    November 23, 2010 at 11:29 am |
    • Peace2All


      Hey CK...!

      Yes, I too am for 'freedom,' which means for all. And...... do you 'really' believe all of these 'faith-based' monies are *not* being used to 'proselytize'...? Yep, you know that a good portion of it is. Example after example comes out of 'faith based' monies... our 'tax' dollars being used to recruit, convert, and try and influence the legal system... yes, you guessed it... by 'changing laws.' And, how would you begin, with soooooo many Churches, and Mosques, etc... to even police it anyway, if everyone considered it a good idea...?

      That is why my statement above stands. -0- federal dollars for 'religious organizations.' Separation of Church/Mosque and Government.

      Again, I am all for building multi-cultural bridges, I'm just not so sure that giving 'Government Monies' to Religious organizations, (regardless of what they *claim* to how they will put the money to use) is the way to go.

      But, you know me... I am certainly open to being wrong here.

      Hope that you are well...


      November 23, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Peace2All: Of course I'm not sure that ALL the money that's going to religious organizations from the office of "faith-based initiatives" aren't going to methods of proselytization. I think the only way you can be sure it isn't is, like you said, not have any money going to religious organizations at all. Like I have said before, it is a fine line but I don't think Park 51 has crossed it. But to be clear this money is not coming from that office. It is from a fund for rebuilding the community of Lower Manhattan. And that is the stated purpose of this building. If it is supposed to be like the YMCA, then it won't be a means of converting people to Islam, but a means of serving the community. And for that reason I do not have a problem with money going to them.
      Park 51 has not been linked to trying to change the legal system in anyway. And while that's a fear that a lot of people share, none of them can point to evidence that they are. So far everything I have heard mentioned about the legal system and Park 51, is by people like you and me who recognise that everything they have done is legal and within our rules. It is people who are anti-muslim that are trying to circ-umvent the law to keep them from their legal right to worship and own property.
      I agree it is a tricky situation. And I understand your point of view. But I think there is more here than just the black-and-white issues of church and state. It's also about diversity, coexistence, and recognizing the importance of the minority voice. I am pro-diversity, and this country is more and more anti-muslim. So even if Park 51 is like the YMCA, will they be given the same treatment? I hope they will, but I don't know if that will happen. If they don't get the funding, will it be because our country has woken up and recognized that all govt money should not go to religious organizations? Or will it be because this one is by muslims? Fair is fair. So if we are going to fund Christian organizations, we must also recognize that we must fund other organizations even if they are not exclusively Christian.

      I absolutely believe the majority of their money will be private donations anyway. But either way, I don't mind.

      I also find it interesting that the people who once supported it because it is not a mosque but a community center have changed their tune now and want to look at it as not really a community center but just a mosque.

      November 24, 2010 at 9:24 am |
  14. PAGANGRL69

    You honestly believe all that manmade religious rhetoric "Allah" garbage...You are "Truly" Delusional!!! But-Oh well- I'm not going to preach to even convert or change your mind...I'm not Religious...Nor am I not Weak Minded Delusional or Influence by manmade "Religions"...I just use rational -logical -thinking and common sense of Responsibility for Myself and My Personal Actions...I do not need "Religion" to use- influence- or hide behind or blame for my life to live it to the fullest everyday..."Karma"...Period!!!-To each is of his "Own Journey" and that of "Free Will"...So Be It...Whatever you want to believe is Your Personal Choice as what I believe or don't believe is of mine...even so on that note...I still will think -however-Tthat building a Mosque around the 9/11 site is still A Morally Insensitive and Very- Very -Very Disrepectful Action in reguards to the Fallen who died...It is Also as the same unto The Families & other Loved One's & Last but not Least...- To Our Great Nation-America!!!
    However- I can see in your speaking you agree with what happened...You seem to think and imply by verses that you use it's ok to make a Shrine their for what Muslims consider as a statement to US as of "settlement & conquer"...Sick n' Twisted...
    I will tell you this...This is America!!!...America doesn't belong to any God!-Not even your so called "Allah"!!!
    Blessed Be...

    November 23, 2010 at 7:21 am |
    • Muneef"786"

      And as for those who have set up a mosque for hurting and blaspheming and the causing of division among the believers and as a lurking-place for one who hath warred against Allah and His apostle aforetime, and surely; they will swear: we intended only good, whereas Allah testifieth that they are liars. (107) Thou Shalt never stand therein. Surely a mosque founded from the first day on piety is wortheir that thou shouldst stand therein. In it are men who love to cleanse themselves: and Allah approveth the clean. (108) Is he, then, who hath founded his building upon piety towards Allah and His good-will better, or he who hath founded his building on the brink of a crumbling bank, so that it crumbleth with him into the Hell-fire! And Allah guideth not the wrong-doing people. (109) And their building which they have builded will not cease to be a cause of doubt in their hearts unless it be that their hearts are cut asunder; and Allah is Knowing, Wise. (110)

      November 23, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
    • Yin and Yang

      Don't waste your time explaining Pagangrl. He still live in the Allah Lalaland where he believe he'll be rewarded with 72 Virgins or Houri written in quran 55:72 and quran 56:34-36.

      November 25, 2010 at 10:40 am |
  15. angelic

    all muslims did not cause the 9/11 attack, the y were extremists. but out of courtesy and respect for others they should not build a mosque there, of all places, IT IS PROVOCATIVE. this place has a significant meaning for many americans and should remain like that. they could build a mosque anywhere else. ASk yourselves would any muslim let "foreigners" build a temple, church at a site which they hold dear to themselves?

    November 23, 2010 at 7:05 am |
    • Yin and Yang

      Thank you. They delay the permit of building other house of worship in Malaysia while the permit to build Mosque were expedited. And in saudi arabia there's no such thing as freedom of religion while in afghanistan they almost put a man to death for converting to another faith. So much for the statement they always use to defend their faith as no compulsion in religion – It just didn't exist.

      November 25, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  16. Muneef"786"

    (3:139) Do not, then, either lose heart or grieve: for you shall surely gain the upper hand if you are true men of faith. (3:140) If a wound has befallen you a similar wound has already befallen the people who are opposed to you. We make such movements to men in turn so that Allah might mark out those who are the true men of faith and select from among you those who do really bear witness (to the Truth): for Allah does not love the wrong-doers,  
    (3:141) and makes men go through trials in order that He might purge the believers and blot out those who deny the Truth.

    November 23, 2010 at 6:41 am |
  17. Muneef"786"

    (3:179) Allah will not let the believers stay in the state they are:125 He will set the wicked apart from the good. Allah is not going to disclose to you what is hidden in the realm beyond the reach of perception,126 but He chooses from among His Messengers whom He wills (to intimate such knowledge). Believe, then, in Allah and in His Messengers; and if you believe and be come God-fearing, yours will be a great reward.

    November 23, 2010 at 6:29 am |
  18. PAGANGRL69

    I "Do Not" live in "Fear"...I "NEVER" Have...I shall "Never" Begin...I also will "Never Forget"-9/11

    Blessed Be To America!!!
    You are "Never" forgotten...

    November 23, 2010 at 6:09 am |
  19. PAGANGRL69


    Blessed Be Always...
    Blessed Be To America...
    Blessed Be To Our Troops...

    November 23, 2010 at 6:02 am |
    • Yin and Yang

      So mote it be and Amen.

      November 25, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  20. Muneef"786"

    (3:173) When people said to them: 'Behold, a host has gathered around you and you should fear them', it only increased their faith and they answered: 'Allah is Sufficient for us; and what an excellent Guardian He is!'


    November 23, 2010 at 5:57 am |
1 2 3
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.