Ground Zero Mosque

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The 'Ground Zero Mosque' controversy was sparked by right-wing blogger and pro Israel activist Pamela Geller[1] about the Park51 (originally named Cordoba House) initiative to build a Muslim community center in Manhattan, New York. The campaign is funded mainly by Joyce Chernick, a WINEP trustee.[2] Construction of the centre, which will include a swimming pool, gym, theatre, sports and prayer facilities, was approved by a New York City community board by a vote 29-1 in favour with 10 abstentions.[3] <youtube align="right" size="tiny" caption="NRTPac Ad: 'Kill the Ground Zero Mosque'">mjGJPPRD3u0</youtube><youtube align="right" size="tiny" caption="Olbermann: There is no ‘Ground Zero Mosque'">QZpT2Muxoo0</youtube><youtube align="right" size="tiny" caption="Center for Security Policy's television ad against the Park51">nkMolLriAkQ</youtube>

Origins of controversy

The campaign against Park51, which has been deliberately mislabelled the 'Ground Zero Mosque', was started by far-right Zionist activist Pamela Geller.[4] It has since been joined by some members of the families of 9/11 victims, a campaign has been waged mainly by the right wing Tea Party movement and Israel lobby-affiliated neoconservative groups to inflame passions in a series of ads, articles and public pronouncements. In the latest episode, former Republican governor of Alaska Sarah Palin has asked 'peace-seeking' Muslims to 'refudiate'[sic] the mosque. As of 21 July 2010, the campaign's Facebook page (which is promoted by the English Defence League) has over 51,000 members. In late July 2010 the Anti-Defamation League drew sharp condemnation after it endorsed the campaign's demands.[5][6][7][8] ADL's action prompted influential columnist Fareed Zakaria to return an award and the $10,000 honorarium he received from the organization in 2005.[9] Despite intense lobby pressure, Barack Obama has supported the project.[10]

Following the hysteria successfully sparked by the rightwing campaign, public opinion has strongly turned against the mosque, and politicians of even liberal persuasion have started backtracking, expressing scepticism, or outright opposing the project. Barack Obama backtracked from his endorsement the very next day, and the project has been opposed by the likes of Harry Reid, Howard Dean and David Paterson.[11]

The art of incitement

According to journalist Chris McGreal:

SIOA is behind a series of advertisements opposing the "Ground Zero Mega Mosque", as Geller calls it, which appeared on the sides of New York buses this week picturing a plane flying into one of the World Trade Centre towers and a mosque divided by the question: Why Here?
Geller's answer is that the planned centre is viewed by Muslims as a "triumphal" monument built on "conquered land".
As extreme as that may seem, Geller and her views have been embraced by leading politicians such as Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker of the US House of Representatives, and John Bolton, the conservative former US ambassador to the UN, who are scheduled to speak at a rally against the controversial New York Islamic centre organised by Geller for September 11.
Gingrich this week likened the planned centre to putting Nazi signs outside the Holocaust museum.[12]

Response to Park51's LMDC grant application

On November 22, 2010 Park51 announced on its blog that it was applying 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."[13] The media monitoring non-profit Media Matters for America called the reaction the announcement received from right-wing blogs "predictable" and based on "Islamophobia."[14]

The culprit behind the 'Ground Zero Mosque' Pamela Geller wrote: "Imagine the gall of these Islamic supremacists. The very idea that the infidels should finance the second wave of 911 attacks on the American people again exhibits the contempt Rauf and his gang have for the filthy kuffar."[15]

Key opponents


Media Coverage


According to a Politico investigation Robert Spencer's operations are funded mainly by Joyce Chernick, a WINEP trustee. She also led the effort to raise $3.5 million in venture capital to start Pajamas Media, a far right pro-Israel blog network which has kept up a steady stream of anti-mosque postings.[46]


  1. Justin Elliot, Ground Zero Mosque Origins, Salon, 16 August 2010
  2. Kenneth P. Vogel and Giovanni Russonello, Latest mosque issue: The money trail, Politico, 4 September 2010
  3. Mail Foreign Service, "'We don't want to upset 9/11 families but we have to balance diversity': Mosque near Ground Zero gets go-ahead", Mail Online, 26 May 2010
  4. 4.0 4.1 Justin Elliott, "How the "ground zero mosque" fear mongering began", Salon, 16 August 2010
  5. Philip Weiss, ‘ADL’ statement rationalizing bigotry draws wide scorn,, 30 July 2010
  6. Jim Lobe, Foxman Really Outdoes Himself on Mosque Issue,, 30 July 2010
  7. Ali Gharib, ADL and Downtown Islamic Center: What about the Pentagon?,, 31 July 2010
  8. Philip Weiss, Foxman plays Holocaust card,, 31 July 2010
  9. Danny Shea, Fareed Zakaria Returns Anti-Defamation League Award Over Ground Zero Mosque, Huffington Post, 6 August 2010
  10. Glenn Greenwald, 'Obama defends "Ground Zero mosque",' Salon, 13 August 2010
  11. Glenn Greenwald, Howard Dean: "Mosque" should move, Salon, 18 August 2010
  12. Chris McGreal, The US blogger on a mission to halt 'Islamic takeover', The Guardian, 20 August 2010
  13. Park51, "Park51 LMDC Funding Request", Park51 Blog, 22 November 2010
  14. MMFA, "Predictable: Right-wing media respond to Park51 grant application with Islamophobia", Media Matters for America, 23 November 2010
  16. MJ Rosenberg, UPDATE American Jewish Committee Opposes Mosque And A Strong Sign That AIPAC Does Too, TPM Cafe, 3 August 2010
  17. Statement On Islamic Community Center Near Ground Zero, ADL Press Release, 28 July 2010
  18. FDI, "Historic 9/11 Stop the Mosque at Ground Zero Rally", FDI Website, 21 September 2010, accessed on 18 October 2010
  19. Robert Booth, "English Defence League members attend New York mosque protest", Guardian, 12 September 2010
  20. David Horowitz and Daniel Luban, "Islamophobia or Reality?", Tablet, 27 August 2010, accessed on 18 October 2010
  21. Adam Weinstein, ""No More Mosques, Period"", Mother Jones, 11 August 2010
  22. Charles Krauthammer, "Sacrilege at Ground Zero", Washington Post, 13 August 2010
  23. JINSA Report #1022, 14 September 2010
  24. Stop the 911 Mosque, "Cordoba Initiative Statement", Stop the 911 Mosque website, accessed on 18 October 2010
  25. Rayne, "Late Night: Center for Security Policy’s Report – Boykin-Blessed Anti-Muslim Propaganda" - (the neoconsrvative thinktank runs the website, Fire Dog Lake, 16 September 2010
  26. The Tangled Web of the GZM Imam's Organizations Raises Questions, IPT News, 26 August 2010
  27. Alex Pareene, Jonah Goldberg: Caring about Muslims is a hate crime against Real Americans, Salon, 24 August 2010
  28. J.J. Goldberg, Peretz-Wieseltier Smackdown! The Islam Menace! (Also, Yours Truly on NPR, Sunday), Forward, 5 September 2010
  29. MJ Rosenberg, Wiesel Persuades Axelrod: Dump The Mosque, TPMCafe, 7 October 2010
  30. Michael Barbaro, Mayor’s Stance on Muslim Center Has Deep Roots, New York Times, 13 August 2010
  31. Dan Senor, "An Open Letter on the Ground Zero Mosque", Wall Street Journal, 3 August 2010
  32. Lammert de Jong, State-of-the-Art Populist, London Review Blog, 26 August 2010
  33. Suzi Parker, "Sarah Palin to Muslims: Reject Ground Zero Mosque", Politics Daily, accessed on 18 October 2010
  34. Nick Wing, "Newt Gingrich Calls 'Ground Zero Mosque' Organizers 'Radical Islamists' Seeking 'Supremacy,' Compares Them To Nazis (VIDEO)", Huffington Post, 16 August 2010
  35. Ryan J. Reilly, "New Anti-Mosque Video By Liz Cheney's Group Features 9/11 Survivors, Families (VIDEO)", Talking Points Memo, 18 August 2010
  36. Stephen Schwartz, "A Mosque Grows Near Brooklyn", Weekly Standard, 17 July 2010
  37. M. Zuhdi Jasser, "Mosque unbecoming Not at Ground Zero", New York Post, 24 May 2010
  38. Evan McMorris-Santoro, "Mark Williams' New Line On NYC Mosque: Mayor Bloomberg Is A 'Judenrat'", Talking Points Memo, 23 August 2010
  39. Youssef M. Ibrahim, "Mosque At the World Trade Center: Muslim Renewal Or Insult Near Ground Zero", Hudson New York, 16 December 2009
  40. Huffington Post, "Rick Lazio Releases Anti 'Ground Zero Mosque' Ad Attacking Cuomo (VIDEO)", Huffington Post, 20 August 2010
  41. Andrew Brown, "The poison behind the Ground Zero mosque furore", Guardian, 18 August 2010
  42. Raymond Ibrahim, The Two Faces of the Ground Zero Mosque, Pajamas Media, 22 June 2010
  43. Dan Well, "Wheeler: Ground Zero Mosque a 'Trojan Horse'", News Max, 8 August 2010
  44. Stephanie Wei, “Go Away — Soon!” Says Important Golf Person to Ground Zero Mosque Supporters, Wei Under Par (blog), 26 August 2010
  45. Democracy Now, "Tariq Ramadan Debates Moustafa Bayoumi on Proposed Islamic Center Near Ground Zero", Democracy Now, 13 September 2010
  46. Kenneth P. Vogel and Giovanni Russonello, Latest mosque issue: The money trail, Politico, 4 September 2010