The Ground Zero Mosque and Media Sleight of Hand

The irony could not have been thicker: the New York Post reported Sunday that one year after the notorious Park51 “community center” opened “with great fanfare,” it was “now an empty space with no community programs.” Park51, you may recall, is the official name of what is more famously known as the Ground Zero mosque. The entire controversy over the Ground Zero mosque is an illuminating example of how the media manipulates public perceptions.

Now the central deception – that the Ground Zero mosque was never really a mosque at all -- has been fully revealed. The Post continued: “What’s more, while the developers behind Park51 insisted for two years that the project was more than a mosque, it now appears to be just that. Dozens of worshipers gather at the site on Park Place Friday for prayer services — but that’s the only activity in the building.”

This is the ignominious denouement of the institution that its developer, Sharif El-Gamal, once boasted would soon be “the most famous community center in the whole world.” El-Gamal wasn’t the only one boasting: when Park51 officially opened last year, reporters from all over the world contacted Pamela Geller and me, as the leaders of the national opposition to the Ground Zero mosque, asking us for comment on the “fact” that we had “lost,” that the “community center” was opening despite our opposition.

But this was a case of a defeated side declaring victory and getting out, a la Vietnam. As both Geller and I made repeatedly clear at the height of the Ground Zero mosque controversy, we were well aware that Muslims were gathering for prayers in the Burlington Coat Factory building that had been extensively damaged in the September 11, 2001 attacks, and had no objection to that.

What we were objecting to was the planned sixteen-story mega-mosque that the less than solvent El-Gamal and his erstwhile partners, the unsavory and dishonest Islamic supremacists Faisal Abdul Rauf and Daisy Khan, planned to build on that site after they tore down the Burlington Coat Factory building, as that would have been a triumphal mosque built on the site of a jihad victory, like the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Once Americans voiced their opposition in huge numbers to that planned victory mosque, and we exposed the developers’ Islamic supremacist ties and many shady financial dealings, the project was put on indefinite hold.