On September 21 at 6:30 PM, the Ground Zero Mosque will open its doors to show a photo exhibit in its community space. Park51 is hoping to discourage its opponents by declaring an early victory in spite of its recent embarrassments and setbacks. This grand opening does not mean that the fight is over. The project still has a long way to go until completion.
The exhibit, called “NYChildren,” will showcase the work of Danny Goldfield, who photographed children in the city originating from 171 countries around the world. About $70,000 was raised in less than two months for the temporary community space through KickStarter.com. Over 700 invitations have been distributed for the grand opening, and visitors to Park51’s website are registering to attend now. The exhibit will be up for three months. The site will be open Monday through Friday, 12:30 p.m. to 9:00 pm beginning on Thursday.
The photo exhibit is not the Ground Zero Mosque’s only attraction. It will have various classes including yoga and Brazilian martial arts, discussion groups, arts programs and, of course, a section for Muslim prayer services. Religious services have been held in the old Burlington Coat factory since 2009. The planned prayer space will accomodate over 2,000 attendees, rivaling St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Park51 claims the site is a cultural center, not a mosque, because it will eventually have a gymnasium, swimming pool, art galleries, and other non-religious facilities.
“It is ridiculous that Park51 tries to say this is anything but a mosque. Churches have gyms, classes and other facilities as part of their buildings, and they could never get away with saying it is anything but a church,” Martin Mawyer, president of the Christian Action Network, told FrontPage.
His organization held a screening tour of the organization’s film, “Sacrificed Survivors: The Untold Story of the Ground Zero Mosque,” in New York City public parks around the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Congressman Allen West also hosted a screening of the film in Congress on September 7, prompting Rep. Keith Ellison to promote another event on “Islamophobia.”
Park51 recently had a setback when an application for a $5 million federal grant was rejected. If the group had its way, taxpayer money would have paid for the Ground Zero Mosque’s “domestic violence prevention, Arabic and other foreign language classes, programs and services for homeless veterans, two multi-cultural art exhibits and immigration services.” Park51 is also far from its original fundraising goal of $100 million. In 2011, it raised $7.5 million and it hopes to raise $15 million next year.
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