What is Park51?
Park51 is an independent project led by Muslim Americans for all New Yorkers. This project is separate from the Cordoba Initiative and ASMA.
Are You At Ground Zero?
Lower Manhattan is pretty small. You can’t see Ground Zero from our current building and on completion of our planned building some years from now, there won’t be any views of the Ground Zero memorial from the building. To honor those killed on September 11th, we have planned for a public memorial within our future facility as well as reflection space open to all.
As we move forward, we'll incorporate people's questions, concerns and hopes into the shape of this project. We haven't committed to a final design because we want to know how best to serve the diverse community of lower Manhattan.
Park51: Leadership Structure
Park51 is an independent project led by Muslim Americans. This project will be separate from The Cordoba Initiative and ASMA. Imam Feisal Abdul-Rauf and Sharif El-Gamal are serving as the project managers until we establish a non-profit.
The Muslim Community in New York City
There are roughly one million Muslims in the tri-state area and several hundred thousand in New York City. Muslim New Yorkers are part of the city and have been for a very long time. We’re doctors, lawyers, businessmen, cab drivers, teachers and students.
While a mosque will be located in the planned final structure of Park51, it will be a distinct non-profit. Neither Park51 nor the mosque, which hasn’t been named yet, will tolerate any kind of illegal or un-American activity or rhetoric. The final size and location of the mosque have yet to be determined, but it will only represent a small portion of the final structure.
The Story: The Need For A Mosque in Lower Manhattan
We’d been looking for at least seven years to find a space to accommodate the growing population of Muslims in lower Manhattan. We had also been eager to contribute to the revitalization of lower Manhattan, in part because this is our area of business and also because as New Yorkers we wanted to give back to our city and help make it a better place to live.
Prior to purchasing our current facility at 45 Park Place, there were two mosques in lower Manhattan, although Park51 is not affiliated with either of these mosques. One was Masjid al-Farah, which could fit a maximum of approximately 65 people, and had to hold three or four separate prayer services on Fridays just to fit the crowds.
The second mosque, at Warren Street, accommodated about 1,500 worshippers during Friday prayers - people had been praying on sidewalks because they had no room. They lost their space around May 2009.
We made the move to buy 45 Park Place in July 2009 in part to offset the loss of this space. Currently, our space at 45 Park Place accommodates around 450 people every Friday. We are also easily accessible from many different parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, which was an important consideration.
Park51 will be a community center promoting tolerance and understanding through three types of programs: arts and culture, education and recreation. We’ll offer all New Yorkers valuable services, world-class facilities and empowering opportunities to learn more about the world around us and about each other.
Imam Feisal’s Role in the Vision of Park51
Imam Feisal has been a champion of pluralism and tolerance. He fully understands the enormity of 9-11. In fact his own congregation was only blocks away from Ground Zero. He works very hard, day in and day out, to fight extremism and radicalism. He has served the lower Manhattan community faithfully for over 27 years. He is supported by political and religious leaders across New York City for his commitment to moderation and tolerance and his years of work in bringing people together.
Imam Feisal’s Role at Cordoba House
Imam Feisal will be a member of the Board of Directors and will oversee the Cordoba House, which will direct the multifaith programming within Park51.
In Lower Manhattan, the biggest community center is at Bowery and Houston and it’s in a basement. There are new residential towers going up in lower Manhattan as we speak.
Residents need services and will benefit from our investment in the neighborhood. Community Board 1, which represents the residents of lower Manhattan, acknowledged these needs when they gave us their support and on two separate occasions voted unanimously in favor of the site and project.
Park51 is not a political organization. We do not have a political agenda, and we will be open to all. We do not have room for extremist views and opinions. Radical and hateful agendas will have no place in our community center or mosque. We are building this center for New York City, because we’re New Yorkers. We have families here and futures here.
On 9/11 (Muslims Attacked)
When our city was attacked on Sept. 11, Muslim New Yorkers were attacked, too. Scores of Muslim Americans perished, both in the attacks and as first responders. Hundreds of Muslims serve in our Police and Fire departments. Many Muslims are fighting alongside their fellow Americans in our armed forces.
My heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones. We were all attacked that day, no matter what our color or our religion. Moving forward, I hope and pray the dialogue reaches more New Yorkers and Americans. People have concerns and questions, and we want to answer them in a meaningful way, in a way that lets people know who we really are, what we want to do for the city and how they can be a part of Park51.
Outreach to Opposition
We have to appeal to the undecided, and change the conversation about Muslims in America. Because of that, we’re offering an open door.
Community Board 1 is overwhelmingly behind us, and they represent the people of lower Manhattan. They’ve studied our project closely, they learned about who we are and they live in the area we hope to serve. They were clear in their support for us, and we’re tremendously grateful for that.
Borough President Scott Stringer, Mayor Bloomberg, Councilwoman Chin and Councilman Jackson, City Comptroller Liu, Attorney General Cuomo, State Senator Squadron, U.S. Congressman Nadler, Governor Paterson and a number of key officials and institutions are supporting us. We’re also pleased to have the support of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, J Street and, most recently, President Obama.
More about Park51 and Fundraising
Park51 is a newly established charitable organization that was formed to foster and promote an understanding of Islam and Islamic culture, advance the values of religious and cultural tolerance, promote dialogue between Islam and other religions and cultures, and support the creation and ongoing operations of cultural and religious facilities grounded in the foregoing values. It is currently accepting contributions in furtherance of these charitable purposes. Park51 anticipates filing an Application for Recognition of Exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code with the Internal Revenue Service in the next few weeks.
Further information about the programs and activities supported by your contributions may be obtained by sending a request to Park51 at firstname.lastname@example.org
Under New York law, Park51 is required to file an annual financial report with the New York Attorney General. Park51's first fiscal year does not end until December 31, 2010, and therefore no annual report has yet been filed. After the first annual report and subsequent annual reports are filed, they will be obtainable upon request, in accordance with New York law, by writing to Park51, 51 Park Place, New York, NY 10007 or the Office of the Attorney General, Charities Bureau, 120 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10271.
We pledge to purse our fundraising campaign in accordance with all applicable state and federal rules and regulations. We will hire security consultants to assist us in the process of reviewing potential contributors. We will refuse assistance from any persons or institutions who are flagged by our security consultants or any government agencies.