By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN
(CNN) - The police barricades are gone from a block of Park Place in Lower Manhattan. Police officers no longer stand watch here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week as they had done in response to numerous protests over a proposed Islamic center.
The Park 51 Islamic Community Center on this block goes mostly unnoticed by the people passing by.
During the summer of 2010 protestors gathered by the hundreds on the streets around Park 51 demanding an end to the plan to build what they called a victory mosque, “the ground zero mosque,” so close to the site of the attacks of 9/11.
[2:49] “It was a surreal time. I was only getting about three or four hours of sleep a night and the news did spiral out of control. It kind of surprised me how a local community story very quickly became a nationwide story and then it became an international story,” said Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, one of Park 51’s co-founders. “I was getting calls from media all over the world. Everybody was interested in this story which was somehow very puzzling to me.”
He and his wife Daisy Kahn wanted to build a community center that would be a place for people of all faiths. Instead they found themselves the targets of death threats. Hate mail arrived at their office on a daily basis.
[4:54] “We did have to be very careful, very cautious in how we lived our lives,” said Imam Feisal. “At the same time this was happening, by a margin of 100 to 1, we got supportive letters and calls. We got moving letters from children and adults all over this country.”
[7:42] “What I have learned from this whole experience is that the struggle with all religions in America is one of acceptance. And there are elements in this society… that continually reject new comers,” said Daisy Kahn. “But America is a fair country and Americans are fair and I know we will prevail.”
Today, Park 51 is still housed in two run-down buildings on Park Place.
While Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife have parted ways with the other co-founders, it is still their dream to build a center that will build bridges between people of all faiths.