Developer: Plans For N.Y. Mosque Moving Forward A year since the controversy over the so-called ground zero mosque erupted with harsh rhetoric, demonstrations and a threat to burn a Quran, Sharif El-Gamal is moving forward with his plans. Even though he says working on the project has been hard without Cliffs Notes, he is convinced it's going to happen.
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Developer: Plans For N.Y. Mosque Moving Forward

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Developer: Plans For N.Y. Mosque Moving Forward

Developer: Plans For N.Y. Mosque Moving Forward

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

As NPR's Margot Adler reports, progress on the building is slow.

MARGOT ADLER: The city and the mayor approved the idea. Then, conservative blogger Pamela Geller went on Fox.

PAMELA GELLER: What could be more insulting and humiliating than a monster mosque in the shadow of the World Trade Center buildings that were brought down by an Islamic jihadic attack?

ADLER: Opponents flocked to community meetings. And by summer, Republican politicians were all over the issue, like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich.

SARAH PALIN: This is a slap to those innocent victims who were murdered that day on 9/11.

NEWT GINGRICH: We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor.

ADLER: By September, there was Pastor Terry Jones who threatened...

TERRY JONES: We're going to burn the Quran.

ADLER: Unidentified Group: Not here. Not here.

ADLER: So the main action is back at the building with developer Gamal, owner of Park51. Gamal says they've been building their board, their advisory board.

SHARIF EL: Our staff is inching close to a dozen people right now.

ADLER: Gamal says the model is New York's Jewish Community Center, which has all the services of a YMCA, but they raised money first, then they thought about a building. They say, didn't you do this thing backwards?

BLOCK: I'm not going to disagree on that, and we've made lots of mistakes along the way.

ADLER: What kind of mistakes? Announcing the name of one funder who got besieged by the media, emphasizing two imams both no longer associated with the project.

BLOCK: It started turning into a project of individuals.

ADLER: Unidentified Man: (Speaking foreign language)

ADLER: They have a four-phase plan, but they admit the timeline for a new building is years away.

BLOCK: It's going to take five years, at a minimum.

ADLER: What's the building going to look like? The PowerPoint presentation shows the mosque on level one. The 13 to 15 floors will include everything from a museum space, a 9/11 memorial, a place for interfaith meetings...

BLOCK: ...an auditorium, a media-tech library, a sports pool, a wellness center, a fitness center, a culinary school...

ADLER: And he adds this is hard.

BLOCK: Again, there's no CliffsNotes.

ADLER: Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.

BLOCK: And you can see some of the plans for Park51 at npr.org.

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