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Park51 Planners

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Park51 Building

The building which is poised to house the Park51 Islamic community center, also known as the Ground Zero Mosque, in New York.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Overview: What is "Park51"?:

The "Park51" community center is the official name for the building that has become known as the "Ground Zero Mosque." Park51 is designed as a community center with state-of-the-art facilities for recreation and fitness, education programs, art studios and exhibition space, childcare services, and a 500-seat public auditorium. Plans include a 9/11 memorial and quiet reflection room. One small part of the building will be set aside as a mosque prayer hall, which has caused nation-wide criticism. Planners hope that the center will serve as a model of dialogue, diversity, and service to the community.

What is the Cordoba Initiative?:

Founded in 2004, the Cordoba Initiative is a non-profit (501)c3 tax-exempt organization established to aid multi-cultural and interfaith understanding. Members have advised on Muslim-West issues, advocated for human rights, held conferences and leadership workshops, and fostered cooperation among various community organizations. Although many members of Cordoba Initiative are involved with the Park51 project, they are separate entities: individual non-profit organizations with different boards of directors: Cordoba Initiative, the Park51 project, and the yet-to-be-named mosque that will be held within it.

Who is Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf?:

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has served as the prayer leader of Masjid Al-Farah in Manhattan (12 blocks from Ground Zero) since 1983. He regularly publishes, speaks, and advises about Islam and interfaith issues. Imam Feisal was born in Kuwait of Egyptian parents, spent much of his childhood in Malaysia, and all of his adulthood in the New York tri-state area. Imam Feisal is the founder and visionary of the Cordoba Initiative and the American Society for Muslim Advancement. He serves as temporary project manager for Park51. When it is complete, he will lead the interfaith outreach program at the center.

Who is Sharif El-Gamal?:

Sharif El-Gamal is a long-time Manhattan real-estate developer and CEO of Soho Properties. He owns the 51 Park Place building, has developed the Park51 project, and also serves as a temporary project manager. About Park51, he says: "I can’t say this often enough. We work in lower Manhattan, we care about lower Manhattan and we’re here to provide services to lower Manhattan."

Who is Daisy Khan?:

Daisy Khan is the wife of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (see above), and the Executive Director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA). Ms. Khan regularly speaks about Islam and interfaith issues. Under her leadership, ASMA has developed programs to help empower Muslim women and youth, created interfaith dialogue programs, and mentored young Muslims on challenges of assimilation, gender, religion and modernity, and intergenerational differences. Ms. Khan was born in Kashmir, India, and spent the first 25 years of her career as an interior architect and designer.
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