Developers behind the controversial Ground Zero Mosque are trying to secure $5 million from a federal fund dedicated to rebuilding Lower Manhattan after 9/11, the Daily Beast reports.
The fund contains taxpayer dollars, the report says, and those behind the mosque are trying to secure that money through a “community and cultural enhancement” grant.
The Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Corporation (LMDC), created after 9/11 to oversee rebuilding and fund distribution, is in charge of distributing the grant, designed for community development.
From the Daily Beast:
Park51’s developers clearly had a legal right to apply for the grant. A list of Frequently Asked Questions that accompanied the application specifically states that religious organizations can make funding requests for capital projects “as long as the request is for a facility or portion of a facility that is dedicated to non-religious activities or uses.” According to an individual familiar with the Park51 application, it requests funds to cover a number of cultural, educational and community development aspects of the proposed 13-story building—but the prayer room is excluded from the grant application.
But the question on whether they could have is trumped by the question of whether they should have. The stated aim of the Park51 developers is to provide a community center for lower Manhattan’s 4,000 Muslim residents. Their own website explained that they understood the need to “appeal to the undecided, and change the conversation about Muslims in America.” It’s pretty clear that this play for federal dollars will generate none of that, starting with the lack of disclosure or community consultation before developers submitted their application, which was due November 5th.
“If Imam Feisal and his retinue want know why they’re not trusted, here’s yet another reason,” Irshad Manji, author of The Trouble with Islam and Director of the Moral Courage Project at NYU, told the Daily Beast. “The New Yorkers I speak with have questions about Park51. Requesting money from public coffers without engaging the public shows a staggering lack of empathy—especially from a man who says he’s all about dialogue.”