It's nothing short of a bizarre twist to one of the most polarizing debates in the U.S. in recent times. The developer of the 'Ground Zero Mosque,' which triggered angry protests from Americans, has requested federal aid for the project, and if his request is granted, money to fund the mosque could come from a federal program intended for the reconstruction of the area hit by the 9/11 attacks.
Park51 has applied for a Lower Manhattan Development Corporation grant which would in part fund social service programs for all the residents of Lower Manhattan such as domestic violence prevention, Arabic and other foreign language classes, programs and services for homeless veterans, two multi-cultural art exhibits and immigration services, a statement on the website of the project, Park51, says.
The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) allocates funds for organizations based on their contributions in terms of job creation, community revitalization etc. The grant can be anywhere from $100,000 to one million dollars.
The developer El-Gamal, who runs the real estate firm Soho Properties, told political news portal 'Obama.net' that he hasn't launched a formal fundraising program for the project which is estimated to cost $100m million.
The statement on Park51 website claims that the project will provide hundreds of construction jobs over the next few years and when opened will provide 150 permanent jobs.
In addition, this community center, which will include a gym, a pool, a day care center, a pre-K, a culinary institute, tech classes, an amphitheater, and a 9/11 Memorial, is desperately needed in Lower Manhattan. This is why community leaders and the residents who live there universally support this project, it says.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission decided in August that the lower Manhattan building, which was to be pulled down to construct the Islamic Community Center, could not claim historic status. The decision cleared the path to the construction of the new mosque very close to the site of the worst ever terror attack on U.S. soil which killed about 3,000 people in 2001.