Culture

It’s Back: The Ground Zero Mosque Project Is in the Works Again

Firefighters make their way through the rubble after two airliners crashed into the World Trade Center in New York bringing down the landmark buildings Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Shawn Baldwin/File)

The pet projects of the left never die; they just get put on the back burner until the media looks the other way. One of the most notorious of those projects, a huge mosque at Ground Zero that would inevitably be regarded in the Islamic world as a triumphal mosque celebrating the 9/11 attacks, is now back in the works in lower Manhattan. For years it looked as if this project was dead. It wasn’t. It was just waiting for the massive number of Americans who opposed it to forget about the whole thing.

Pamela Geller, who defeated the Ground Zero Mosque initiative the first time around, broke the news Monday: “The news was buried under two dense paragraphs and five large photos in an article in New York YIMBY about a different project: ‘Construction has also yet to begin on 51 Park Place, which is slated to become a 71-foot-tall, 16,000-square-foot Islamic cultural center.’”

Wait a minute. That “Islamic cultural center” at Ground Zero was supposed to have been built years ago. The New York Post told us in December 2012 that “the Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero…opened with great fanfare a year ago.” You missed that? That’s because it didn’t actually happen. The media was hyping a couple of minor events at a tiny, unmarked mosque in a building that had been extensively damaged in the 9/11 attacks so as to save face after Geller’s rallies, which I helped out on, marshaled public opinion to beat the 16-story mega-mosque project.

But one thing that conservatives could learn from the Left is never to give up, ever, under any circumstances. That “Islamic cultural center” is set to be built now, even if construction is stalled for the moment.

It’s only set to be three stories high, thirteen fewer than originally planned, but it’s likely that the shifty developer behind the project, Sharif El-Gamal, still hopes it will become, as he once boasted about the larger project, “the most famous community center in the whole world.” Back in those days, El-Gamal was hardly the only one boasting: everyone from then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to Barack Obama himself hailed the Ground Zero Mosque as an emblem of national healing.

Sure. Just like a shrine to state Shinto and the Japanese Empire would be an emblem of healing at Pearl Harbor.

The mainstream media also lionized El-Gamal and the onetime Ground Zero Mosque imam, Faisal Abdul Rauf, as heroes of multiculturalism against “intolerance.” Nonetheless, they failed to build their victory mosque. But El-Gamal didn’t really give up. As Geller notes:

The project has been advancing under cover of darkness….El-Gamal has many friends and allies among New York City’s political and media elites. It is likely that de Blasio city officials and the New York Times and other city papers all met with El-Gamal and agreed to keep reporting on this project to an absolute minimum, so that it could get built without incurring the righteous anger of the public again. The first time around, they courted publicity and tried to make El-Gamal a hero – we demolished that and destroyed their plans. So now they’ve clearly decided to go ahead surreptitiously.

Even after all these years, Americans are unlikely to have forgotten the insult to the memory of the victims of 9/11 that this mosque represents, or that mosques all over the world are built on the sites of jihad attacks in order to celebrate the victory of Islam. The 70% of the American people who opposed the Ground Zero Mosque the first time around are not likely to have warmed to the idea of it since then. But it is highly likely that Sharif El-Gamal and his cohorts hope to get it built and up and running before anyone realizes what is going on. The news that it is still in the works was buried far down below the text and photos of a story about a separate project.

This is how the Left operates when Leftists know that what they’re doing is unpopular. This is why Adam Schiff’s initial impeachment hearings were held behind closed doors. This likewise is why it is so important to shed light on what they’re doing. Without the cover of darkness, the Ground Zero Mosque might just be stopped yet again.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.