Revisiting the mosque at ground zero
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, co-founder of Park 51 Islamic Community Center and his wife, Daisy Kahn.
September 11th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Revisiting the mosque at ground zero

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.

soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Nick

    The issue isn't that it's a religious building that was going to be built. The issue was that it was a mosque. Lets stop lying about it. And its not about the religion, its about the muslim people. We did it before with the japanese. A single religion should not be aloud to do any new building around that site. However, I think a multi cultural/religious center could be the right route to take on this. I am currently deployed in Afghanistan and work with these people. Yes their culture is different and yes their religion is defferent, but that doesn't make them bad people. public perception is so jacked up.

    September 12, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jim

    Perhaps Isreal could destroy the Dome on the Mount and then build a Jewish – Muslim Community Center there, how do you think that would go over?

    September 11, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. BigBird Johnson


    September 11, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. butch

    that mosque won't be there much longer

    September 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Colleen

    If this couple's true objective is to "build bridges between people of all faiths," then they wouldn't even consider building their "community center" anywhere near ground zero. To say it would be insensitive is a gross understatement. Why should we be all PC and sensitive about Muslims whenever most of them couldn't care less about our feelings? The only "peaceful" Muslims I could ever respect and trust would be the ones who publicly and vociferously denounce Islamic extremism and terrorism. Even so, I cannot respect a religion that even under the best of circumstances views girls and women as second class citizens, and under the worst of circumstances treats the female gender as slaves and property that can be beaten, mutilated, and murdered at the whims of evil men.

    September 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • skastenbaumcnn

      clearly you didn't listen to my audio report. They're no longer involved with the building on Park Place which, by the way, is north of the World Trade Center site. I'm curious, where are you from? It's been observed that the most vocal people opposed to this project are not located in New York. But around the community there is little if any opposition to the proposal.

      September 11, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
      • Colleen

        Where have you been? There were many New Yorkers, patriotic Americans, who opposed the building of a mosque near Ground Zero. 9/11 was an attack on all Americans, not just New Yorkers, and anyone has the right to an opinion about a mosque near the sight of the most horrific attack in our history. Once again, let's hear from the "peaceful" Muslims who keep their silence when it's time to take a public stand against Islamic extremism. This is not an accepting tolerant live-and-let-live brand of religion that promotes freedom. Read the Quran, my friend, and look at what Islam has done to Europe.

        September 12, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • WASP

      @collen: true men wouldn't try to force out a mosque while they are trying to plant a CROSS at the twin towers site. hypocrite

      September 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
      • Colleen

        You are calling ME a hypocrite? Did I say anything about a cross? How do you define TRUE men? What does that mean? Your comment is not a reply to anything I said. You make no sense.

        September 12, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • my opinion

      ok Colleen....let's see I guess I am one of these "slaves" as you claim but I was totally unaware of all these atrocities committed against me and my fellow gals.....really? wowwww. Obviously you personally don't know many Muslim women. Frankly, it was insulting to read how you decided to define me! I never saw this "slave" type of attitude AND I am a first generation American. And define myself as a feminist too.I have known many Muslim women in the US and abroad and have never personally seen what you point out. My guess is you and I both were surprised by how women are treated in some parts of the world as shown by the news BUT....know that this is not what many ACTUAL Muslim women experience day to day-from MY experience and the Muslim women I have encountered.
      That is, if my opinion means anything.
      Or am I just brainwashed?
      Thank you.

      September 12, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. I Am God

    cafields the structural integrity of the beams inside the World Trade Center collapsed due to the airplanes impact. That is the reason for the collapse. The beams were unable to support the top portion of the World Trade Center and the beams imploded due to the weight.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mop


      September 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • longtooth

      I'm not an engineer, but bin Laden was. He was surprised and delighted when the buildings collapsed, because he only expected a symbolic wound after the planes hit them. The planes severely damaged the steel beams, and then the intense burning of the jet fuel melted them, causing the tops of the buildings to collapse onto the bottoms, like a massive hammer blow. No design could have withstood the crash.

      September 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. rabbit one

    i despise the idea of a mosque or church or anything else at ground zero – it feels like bullying and laughing at the dead

    September 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • skastenbaumcnn

      @Rabbit One – There are no houses of worship being built on the World Trade Center site. Across the street from the site a Greek church that was destroyed on 9/11 is being built. Park 51 is actually 2 1/2 blocks north of the World Trade Center site.

      September 11, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Malfean

    I say sure... a nice huge mosque right next door to the WTC... oh, why not on the grounds themselves. Sure! Absolutely! ...but only after I see a Cathedral across the street from the Kaaba, in Mecca.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • OJ

      In your dreams ahole

      September 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • kyle

      So you are saying you want America to be more like Saudia Arabia?

      September 11, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jimmie

    mosques are PRECISELY the places where murder, suicide and terrorist acts are planned !

    September 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. cafields

    Steel Structures Don't Just Collapse, The Only Time That Steel Structures Have Ever Supposedly Collapsed Was On 9/11/2001. Steel Structures Have Burnt for Days and Never Collapsed, go to YouTube and Watch Videos of Steel Sky Scrapers that have Burnt for Two Days or More and they Never Collapsed. http://bit.ly/OnTZKU
    The Patriot Army – Info Wars – Prison Planet – 911 Was An Inside Job

    September 11, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Malfean

      ...and the UFO's are still flying around Area 51... the Pyramids were engineered by Aliens, JFK was taken out by the CIA because of the Boy of Pigs, etc... etc... etc... we've all heard it before.

      September 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • oneandun

      Go smoke you bong and stop posting mor0ronic stuff here.

      September 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • skastenbaumcnn

      @cafields – 9/11 conspiracy theories have been widely and repeatedly debunked. See http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military/news/1227842 for example.

      September 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BJNJ

    Instead of trying to play goodie goodie....spend the money on helping the world wipe out AlQuada. Any muslim that refuses to wipe out Al Quada is a terrorist. BJNJ

    September 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • OpinionsToGo

      BJNJ: So, what have YOU done to wipe out Al Qaeda? Your racism is showing.

      September 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
      • fatal42

        They want to bridge their religion to others ????

        LIKE HELL

        They want to take over ! Their MUSLUMS world domanance it their goal & if they can't convert you it's their duty to kill you!!

        I don't want to have anything to do with the FILTHY SOB'S

        September 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
      • Big Bob

        And what race is Islam again?

        September 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jess3a3

    I think most religions are full of hypocrites who spend 99% of their time praying and 1% doing actual good deeds. Religion is just a business for power that guilts people into paying 10% of salary to religious leaders to build temples and schools. It a complete waste of time and resources.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • moto

      oh ye of little faith. a relationship with God comes from the heart, not from the mind.

      September 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |