Tag Archive for mosque

Mayor Bloomberg and a political ‘fix’ in for the Ground Zero mosque

The New York Post reports that ‘City Hall ghostwrote GZ mosque’s letter.’ There is more but let’s start there:

Dozens of e-mails between Mayor Bloomberg’s aides and developers of the proposed mosque near Ground Zero reveal a cordial, if not downright cozy, relationship and the length to which a top city staffer went to help the project — even drafting a letter for the group soliciting support from the community board, and providing the fax number to send it.

In one exchange, Community Affairs Commissioner Nazli Parvizi penned the draft of a letter to be sent by Daisy Khan, a key sponsor of the project known alternately as Cordoba House or Park51, to the chairperson of Community Board 1, Julie Menin, as the panel prepared to vote on its recommendation on the project.

The letter drafted by Parvizi thanked Menin for being open-minded about the plan for a mosque and cultural center — which by then had become a flashpoint issue around the nation.

Opponents of the plan were furious.

“The mayor was touting, ironically, government not being involved in religion, and here you have the mayor’s staffer assisting in a public-relations campaign on behalf of a mosque and Islamic center,” said Debra Burlingame, whose brother was a pilot of one of the hijacked planes on 9/11.

Ground Zero mosque Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf provided Nazli Parvizi a revised draft, In it, the Cordoba Initiative requested the Community Board 1 withdraw its resolution (later voted on and approved) to the Landmarks Preservation Commission that the Burlington Coat Factory be “de-designated” as an historical landmark.

Landmark preservation lawyer Shelly Friedman represents the Cordoba Initiative. Friedman (and Friedman and Gotbaum LLP) financially donates to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Robert B. Tierney chairs New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. Friedman emailed Rauf and remindied him of the game plan:

“withdrawing the resolution may affect [Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s and City Council Member Chin’s] thinking about how helpful they can be on June 22 [at the Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting]. That in itself may not be fatal to getting 45 PP de-designated, but I do know that Chairman Tierney was looking forward to the “political cover” their support would provide him.”

But Friedman holds a special disdain for the overwhelming majority of 9/11 family members and first responders who oppose a mosque and Islamic “cultural center” that would espouse the “merits” of discriminatory sharia law at Ground Zero.

As you read this next passage by him in that same email to Rauf, recall that in 2005, 9/11 family members and first responders successfully lobbied against the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation placing an ‘International Freedom Center’ touting “political discourse in the public square.” Mayor Bloomberg was all for a ‘hate America first’ cultural center being built at the entrance-way to the 9/11 memorial and museum on Ground Zero. Friedman wrote:

“Your local opponents have chosen their position against Islam as mere convenience. As I said earlier, these are the forces that have already buried two governors and fought to a standstill the current governor, the current mayor, the strongest economic development agency in America (the Port Authority), the NYC Real Estate Industry and at least two investment banks (Morgan and Goldman Sachs) which saw their plans for the WTC either destroyed of significantly reduced. [Bloomberg handed Goldman Sachs $130 million in Liberty bonds as a consolation prize.] They chased away every major NYC cultural institution off the site which interfered with or impinged upon their vision of the site as a memorial.”

Obviously, Mayor Bloomberg and his cronies put the political fix in for a ‘hate America always’ cultural center at Ground Zero.

9/11 families and first responders: America didn’t ask for a Ground Zero mosque in NY rebuilding fund

Contact: Media@911familiesforamerica.org
9/11 families and first responders: America didn’t ask for a Ground Zero mosque in NY rebuilding fund

When the American people forked over $20 billion to New York to rebuild, they answered the human carnage wrought by radical Muslim terrorists with compassion for the living and respect for the fallen. They could not have foreseen a “community center” being built with their money, just past the smoke, to explain the virtues of Islam.

Yesterday we learned the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation will grant $17 million for “community and cultural enhancement.” The Park51 developers have asked for $5 million of that September 11 federal funding; they do not know the meaning of the word “insensitivity.”

John Avlon of The Daily Beast reports:

While news of the application has not previously been made public, developer Sharif El-Gamal outlined it in closed-door meetings, according to two individuals he spoke with directly. The thirtysomething, Brooklyn-born El-Gamal is motivated more by real estate ambition — one of these sources describes him as aspiring to be the next Donald Trump — than Islamic theology or ideology.

Part of the strangeness of the application is that it blows past the suggested range of $100,000 to $1 million that these grants are supposed to fall to within (I’m told the entire pool for this round of cultural funding will come in under $20 million). According to the two sources knowledgeable about the thinking behind the proposal, the strategy behind the $5 million ballpark was trying to yield a higher figure in the end.

But the project likely doesn’t qualify for a grant in the first place. Specifically, the grant criteria mandate a demonstration of a project’s financial feasibility, based on benchmarks set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The government will help complete development projects — but it does not provide seed capital. And in their last public financial statement, Park51 was found to have less than $20,000 in the bank for a project with a slated cost of $100 million.

Imam Rauf touts the center as a place for “interfaith dialogue” yet advocates for discriminatory sharia law to be imposed here. Dozens of other organizations have waited years to apply in the hope of completing viable and appropriate projects; the LMDC has a prior responsibility to them.

The New York Post reports:

“Why would we give them money ahead of so many other worthy groups?” fumed Tim Brown, a retired firefighter and first responder on 9/11 and a leading opponent of plans for a mosque two blocks north of the World Trade Center. “It’s so upside down,” Brown said of the project, which is a joint venture of real-estate developer Sharif El-Gamal and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. “They are the ones who insist the project is not at Ground Zero and then the next thing you know is they want to leverage 9/11,” Brown said.

Debra Burlingame, whose brother was a pilot on one of the hijacked airliners, cautioned against the use of any 9/11 funds for the mosque. “This is federal money, it was not intended to fund a propaganda issue,” said Burlingame. “If the LMDC gave them a penny, it would enrage everyone in lower Manhattan.”

Such grants require organizations to show “experience with comparable projects,” to demonstrate feasibility, and to have shown responsibility.

The Park51 developers owe $224,000 in unpaid property taxes on the existing building. A New Jersey judge recently ordered the low-income apartments Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf owns into temporary receivership due to infestations of bedbugs, roaches, and rats, despite Rauf having received $2 million in grants to fix up and maintain his buildings. In 1998, Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan were granted tax-free status to conduct religious service for “400 to 500” people at an address which turned out to be an 800-square foot apartment in Manhattan. The 37-year old property developer Sharif El-Gamal has been arrested seven times, including for assault in 2005. The main financial backer of Park51 donated thousands to an Hamas front group as he thought it “was going to an orphanage.”

In June, the Community Board 1 voted 29-to-11 to give Park51 their blessing. While CBI Chairwoman Julie Menin has a responsibility to the local community, she also serves the interests of the Nation as a LMDC board member which, in 2002, issued this statement:

“In the aftermath of September 11, the entire nation has embraced New York, and we have responded by vowing to rebuild our City – not as it was, but better than it was before. Although we can never replace what was lost, we must remember those who perished, rebuild what was destroyed, and renew Lower Manhattan as a symbol of our nation’s resilience. This is the mission of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.”

The American people shouldn’t have to help Imam Rauf promote sharia law overlooking Ground Zero or to further Sharif El-Gamal’s career.

Tim Brown

Debra Burlingame and Tim Sumner
Co-founders, 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America