The developer whose proposal to build a Muslim community center and mosque near the World Trade Center failed amid a national controversy three years ago said Tuesday that he now plans to construct a museum devoted to Islam in the same location.
Sharif El-Gamal, the developer, said through a spokesman that instead of a $100 million, 15-story community center and prayer space, he now planned a smaller, three-story museum “dedicated to exploring the faith of Islam and its arts and culture.” The building would also include a sanctuary for prayer services and community programs.
To make the plan more attractive to neighbors, he said in a statement, he had commissioned a French architect, Jean Nouvel, winner of the 2008 Pritzker Prize, to design the building at 45-51 Park Place, about two blocks from the former World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, and had included plans for a public green space.
Mr. El-Gamal is not anticipating an outcry like the one he faced in 2010, when the center was loudly opposed by right-wing, anti-Muslim organizations, some relatives of Sept. 11 victims, and others who contended it would be insensitive to build an Islamic institution so close to ground zero.
But he may be naïve about the depth of opposition. Robert Spencer, one of the loudest voices against the 2010 proposal and who runs an anti-Muslim blog, Jihad Watch, said this plan would be no better.
“The structure as you describe it,” he wrote in an email, “would be as grotesque as a three-story museum dedicated to exploring the faith of Shintoism and emperor-worship, and its arts and culture, with a sanctuary for prayer services and community programs, at Pearl Harbor….”
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Robert Spencer now has a post up on this a Jihad Watch. He is annoyed with NYT calling him “anti-Muslim.”