NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The developer of a proposed Islamic community center and mosque near Ground Zero says it may take years to determine what kind of project Muslims and non-Muslims want at the site.
Sharif El-Gamal told The New York Times that decisions would be made after consultation with lower Manhattan residents and Muslims in New York City.
El-Gamal said that in the past year he has built relationships with neighborhood groups and recruited a 9/11 victim’s relative to his advisory board. He also conceded he should have done those things before going public with the project, known as Park51.
The developer told the Times that he was upset by the backlash and push back from members of the community and the city.
“To see that you’re in the middle of causing neighbors or other human beings angst or distress or adding to their grief is not a pleasant feeling,” El-Gamal told the Times. “At the same time, we had nothing to do with those events, and those events defaced our religion.”
El-Gamal said he’ll only accept money from sources that reflect “American values.” He says his vision for the project remains unchanged: a mosque, health club, theater and religious and interfaith programming open to all.
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