Here is more clear evidence of the dangerous media conspiracy to deceive and brainwash the American people. After the elite media lauded the imaginary opening of the Ground Zero Mosque, PBS ran a bootlicking puff piece on the Ground Zero mosqueteer, Sharif El-Gamal, by dhimmi Brit "documentary filmmaker" Daniel Reed. His country has been destroyed by hostile invaders; perhaps he wishes the same thing for America. Reed is a snake. The loathsome Reed spent a good deal of time with the 911 families and with Spencer and me, assuring all of us that it would a fair and objective piece. As if anyone on the left could begin to fathom what those words mean. Of course 911 famlies felt ill used, though they are used to a parasitical media.
I expected nothing less, but what surprised me was the absolute collusion and unmosqued charade that followed the next day. Ann Barnard joined Daniel Reed and Sharif El-Gamal in a NY Times "live chat" on the Times website online. Ann Barnard is the notorious NY times journalist who scribbled the NY Times front page hit piece on me (here) late last year, when the Ground Zero mosque was being soundly defeated. Her piece is a hoot. Barnard wailed that Geller "wakes each morning shortly after 7, switches on her laptop and wages a form of holy war through Atlas Shrugs, a Web site that attacks Islam with a rhetoric venomous enough that PayPal at one point branded it a hate site." Would Barnard dare describe devout Muslims who actually wage jihad (holy war) in that way? Methinks not. Oh, and Paypal never branded it a hate site, but let's not let facts get in the way of a good NY Times yarn.
So NY Times reporter Ann Barnard, Ground Zero mosque mockdoc shill Daniel Reed and Ground Zero mosqueteer, Sharif El-Gamal play this little farce in the Times "chat room." Do they really think that would fool freedom lovers? No. But I believe the chat charade was to attract donors, well off NY Times lefty libs, to donate to this crook. The crook needs dough. And they mean to raise the jizya.
Barnard, Reed and El-Gamal spun a tale so divorced from reality that I was embarrassed for them. The first thing El-Gamal says is, "I think the documentary last night was very objective." Oh yes, very. Reed failed to mention what a two-bit gangster El-Gamal is. Sharif El-Gamal thinks that beating people up is a great "stress reliever." He threatened Muslims who think that the triumphal mosque is offensive. He is a deadbeat who didn't pay his taxes -- to the tune of a quarter of a million dollars. He defaulted on not one bank loan, but two. And he was evicted from his Soho properties offices. But none of this is even mentioned in Reed's ridiculous cartoon.
El-Gamal's partner and the money man behind the Ground Zero mosque, Hisham Elzanaty, was involved in a $5.1 million insurance scam. Elzanaty, who was the man who provided most of the funding for the Cordoba Mosque (newly named "Prayer Space") building, was a large contributor to Hamas.
Hisham Elzanaty donated thousands to the Holy Land Foundation, later shuttered by the feds because of its Hamas ties. Muslim Brotherhood fronts CAIR, ISNA, ICNA, MAS, et al, were named un-indicted co-conspirators and Muslim Brotherhood fronts in the Holy Land trial (the largest terror funding trial in history).
None of this was mentioned.
Sharif El-Gamal:The response overall has been extremely positive. I feel for the first time that our story is finally being told fully and accurately.
To clarify, Sharif, PrayerSpace is the organization that will raise funds for the mosque and religious actiivties, correct? On your last comment, I can add that when I visited Sharif's office in August, there was a team of five or six young people sitting around a wood slab table working on the project. There was also a gentleman with a lot of experience raising funds for local mosques and he had some great homespun advice for culturally appropriate approach to NY Muslim community: Don't require an RSVP for a fundraiser, and don't make them pay money up front. Invite them to eat with you, and later, don't worry, they will donate.Sharif El-Gamal:Anne, yes, PrayerSpace is the religious organization. There is a clear separation between the two organizations.
Yes, the NY Times wants to wash the blood off Macbeth's hands, cleansing the narrative and helping raise funds for the mosque, but every big donor should be put on notice. They will be protested, exposed, ridiculed and reviled.
Man Behind the Mosque Live Chat (09/27/2011)Tuesday September 27, 2011
FRONTLINE:The "Man Behind the Mosque" chat will begin at 10am ET on Sept. 28. You can leave a question now.Wednesday September 28, 2011
FRONTLINE:We'll be joined today by Park51 developer Sharif El-Gamal and the producer of "Man Behind the Mosque," Dan Reed.
FRONTLINE:We'll also be joined by New York Times reporter Anne Barnard, who will be our guest questioner today. Here's some of her recent reporting on the story: http://nyti.ms/ojAsCP
FRONTLINE:We'll be getting underway in just a few minutes.
FRONTLINE:Thanks for joining us today everyone. We're here with Sharif El Gamal and Anne Barnard, our guest questioner from the New York Times. Dan Reed will be joining us shortly.
Dan Reed:Present and correct
Sharif El-Gamal:Hello! I am pleased to be here.
Anne Barnard:Hi Sharif -- great to talk to you again. And hello Dan -- it was a pleasure to watch your documentary last night.
Sharif El-Gamal:I think the documentary last night was very objective.
Anne Barnard:Sharif, were there any surprises for you in the documentary -- was there anything you saw differently through other people's eyes?
Dan Reed:Thanks Anne. Hey Sharif, how're you doing? I'm curious to hear what people think of the film out there...
Sharif El-Gamal:I was reminded of the 9/11 family members incredible pain.
Sharif El-Gamal:Dan-- I am great. The team is great. You are missed.
Anne Barnard:I too found the family members very moving and interesting -- they had a spectrum of opinions about the project, and all of them were expressed respectfully and emotionally.
Sharif El-Gamal:The response overall has been extremely positive. I feel for the first time that our story is finally being told fully and accurately.
Anne Barnard:Let me throw out what looks like one of the main questions coming from readers/viewers: A lot has happened since the documentary was finished. Sharif, can you bring us up to date on what is happening at Park51 now and what the plans are going forward, and Dan, feel free to add anything.
Dan Reed:my last filming trip to NYC was in July... most of the material was shot in March 2011
Sharif El-Gamal:Last week we opened our doors and held our first major public event, a photography exhibit called NYChildren. We had more than 500 people on opening night and close to 1,000 visitors over the weekend. New classes at Park51 such as childrens' yoga begin soon.
Sharif El-Gamal:See more about the exhibit here: http://park51.org/2011/09/nychildren_exhibit/
Anne Barnard:Here by the way is a link to an NYT slideshow about the photo exhibit, NYChildren, which attempts to photograph one child from every country on earth -- but the child is now living in NYC.
Comment From Bonnie FranzIf I understood the show correctly, Mr. el-Gamal is a private developer. Yet, he is also trying to get public, taxpayer money for this. 2 floors of this building is to be for religious purposes and I believe then if public monies are given, it shows a preference for a religion.
Dan Reed:Enough with the radical Islamist propaganda Sharif!
Dan Reed:just kidding :)
Sharif El-Gamal:I am a private developer--the Chairman and CEO of Soho Properties in Manhattan. I am also the founder and Chairman of Park51, a not for profit community center, and Prayer Space, a separate religious organization. We are building a community center to serve all residents of lower Manhattan. Today, around the country, public funding is used to support Jewish Community Centers and YMCAs.
Sharif El-Gamal:Dan, watching the documentary I feel that Park51 as a team has gained confidence and stamina since March. Our organization today has a staff of one dozen and we have turned a corner.
Comment From Gail JameIt may be too late to undo all the undercurrents of resentment and bad p.r. but I'm wondering if some type of mediation could help if the two parties could sit down and NOT do what Israel and Palestine have done but each one give one and get one in a discussion. As I watched the documentary I wondered if some type of commemoration of 9/11 could be included in the mosque/community center, if that is allowed under Islamic rules. Sadly the factions illustrated by the two inmans in the story (the come at the controversy in two different ways and now have dropped out of sponsorship of the mosque,) does not help the cause of Park 51 and they do need a new sponsor. Why was Mayor Bloomberg not part of the Frontline program? I remember him bravely stepping forward with significant comments. I am troubled by any religion but it is unfair to permit mega-churches (Christian) and not permit other houses of worship to be erected.
Anne Barnard:To clarify, Sharif, PrayerSpace is the organization that will raise funds for the mosque and religious actiivties, correct? On your last comment, I can add that when I visited Sharif's office in August, there was a team of five or six young people sitting around a wood slab table working on the project. There was also a gentleman with a lot of experience raising funds for local mosques and he had some great homespun advice for culturally appropriate approach to NY Muslim community: Don't require an RSVP for a fundraiser, and don't make them pay money up front. Invite them to eat with you, and later, don't worry, they will donate.
Sharif El-Gamal:Gail, thank you for your comment.
Sharif El-Gamal:A 9/11 memorial is already included in the design plans for Park51. Your suggestion to have mediation is something we hope to make happen. In the meantime, our doors are always open to 9/11 family members who wish to start conversations with us.
Dan Reed:Some kind of mediation would be a good idea of course - although I suspect that for many of the 9/11 families who oppose P51 the location is non-negotiable. Sharif - you would have to drive this idea quite hard and go out to find the people who are your most determined opponents. I don;t think they will necessarily come to you...
Dan Reed:Gail - the idea of a 9-11 memorial within Park 51 actually wasn't welcomed by Lee Hanson whom you saw in the documentary.
Sharif El-Gamal:Anne, yes, PrayerSpace is the religious organization. There is a clear separation between the two organizations.
frontlinepbs:What do the 9/11 families think of the so-called "ground zero mosque?" http://ow.ly/6GPfh #frontline [via Twitter]
Comment From Frank SchaefferAfter watching the documentary, I felt that the pressure from intense media scrutiny caused the divide from Imamu Rauf and Mr. El-Gamal. Is there any chance of reconciliation?
Dan Reed:While Sharif mulls that one over, it's worth noting that Sharif and Imam Feisal envisaged this project in very different ways from the start...
Sharif El-Gamal:Hello Frank. The media scrutiny was a minor part of our differences. I hope reconciliation will come at some point in the future.
Sharif El-Gamal:Thanks Dan. Spot on.
Dan Reed:Sharif - you saw this as very much a Muslim project, whilst the Imam wanted to take it more into the interfaith world in which he had built his reputation
Anne Barnard:Also, you differed about whether or not the project had anything to do with 9/11, Imam Feisal talked early on, in our first NYT story long before controversy erupted, about how the location might actually be a place of healing. You have always said it was just about serving the downtown community.
Sharif El-Gamal:Park51 is an Islamic community center open to all people regardless of religion, race, creed or ethnicity. That is why we also chose NYChildren http://park51.org/2011/09/nychildren_exhibit/ as our first public project to open our doors last week. Imam Feisal envisioned an interfaith center--something I view as a separate concept.
Anne Barnard:Sharif and Dan, I would like to take this in a totally new direction:
Sharif El-Gamal:Park51 has nothing to do with Ground Zero. Our project has always been about serving Muslims that need a prayer space in lower Manhattan and the greater lower Manhattan community that needs a community and cultural center.
Dan Reed:Go for it Anne
Anne Barnard:Six months after the peak of the controversy about your project, the Arab Spring began -- the series of uprisings in which Arab, largely Muslim publics have challenged or overthrown dictators. We have seen a mix of secular and Islamist youth pushing for democracy in homegrown, largely peaceful movements, or, in libya, resisting with weapons against brutal repression, successfully. How do you think that has affected perceptions of your project and of Muslms' place in America -- both among Muslims and non-Muslims? Has it affected your project directly in any way?
Sharif El-Gamal:Nice question
Anne Barnard:And Dan, your thoughts welcome too, of course.
Dan Reed:The revolution in Egypt was unfolding around the same time we were shooting this back in March, causing much excitement amongst many of the American Muslims we visited. Sharif and his partner Nour both have Egyptian backgrounds, and so does Imam Feisal. I remember everyone being glued to the TV...
Sharif El-Gamal:I think what we are witnessing is that people in the Middle East have had enough oppression and crave the freedoms and opportunities we have in America. For the first time in decades, the majority spoke, and they spoke peacefully and with purpose. This shows the world that Islam is not about force, but the opposite. It was incredible to witness peaceful, organized, intelligent expressions for freedom and gives the world an important perspective they have not seen enough of.
Anne Barnard:Using the JCC model -- there are a lot of talks at JCCs about world events of Jewish interest -- I can imagine some events at Park51 dealing with the Arab spring.
Comment From QuestionerIt did seem to me that Sharif was following his own will and business instincts and maybe wasn't necessarily following the will of his God or Islamic religious leaders. Has he talked to the Imam from Florida about his opinions?
10:39 Did the film change your opinion about the Park51 project?
No( 70% )
( 30% )
Dan Reed:Anne - excellent idea. Wael Ghonim the young Google exec behind it all could be your first guest...
Sharif El-Gamal:I don't know where Dan found that Florida Imam. What gives the Imam any authority to comment on something he knows nothing about--a project in New York City. My community was evicted from a mosque on Warren St. in lower Manhattan where they had worshiped for over 40 years. We are solving a major problem for the Muslim community in lower Manhattan.
Sharif El-Gamal:Anne, Dan, great ideas. We should have a round table discussion. You are both invited!
Dan Reed:A view from outside NYC is precisely what I wanted. Imam Musri is the leader of 10 mosques in Central Florida, and had strong views which reflected those of his large constituency
Comment From Salman MeerTo what extent do the visionaries accept responsibility for the subsequent rise of Islamophobia nationwide?
Dan Reed:Always glad to throw in some frank views!
Sharif El-Gamal:Salman: None whatsoever, and I question the notion that there was a rise in Islamophobia. I think what we saw was a spike in media coverage of Islamophobia. At the same time, I hope Park51 helps change the negative perceptions of Muslims and Muslim Americans.
Sharif El-Gamal:I should add: Dan, you made an objective film.
Anne, as a member of the media, what do you make of Salman's question?
Dan Reed:I'm glad you think so Sharif. You made a big leap of faith by giving us the access you did.
frontlinepbs:“When I was born my first name was Alexander and I used to go to church" Full interview w/ @Park51 developer http://ow.ly/6GOXp [via Twitter]
Anne Barnard:I think Salman's question reflects a perception among some Muslims in America that at a time when they are engaged in a struggle to establish and defend their place in an post-9/11 America, this project was not where they would have chosen to spend their community's political capital... That's one thread of opinion I encountered in my reporting among a wide range of Muslims about the project.
Comment From Frank SchaefferSharif, how have these issues affected your personal life?
Dan Reed:Anne, I found the same...
Sharif El-Gamal:Anne, thank you, that's an important perspective as well.
Anne Barnard:I agree that there was an increase in coverage of Islamophobia -- and coverage of Islamophobic ideas -- but I think the project and the way some people capitalized on it did bring the issue of Islam in America to people who had not thought about it much lately.
Dan Reed:Some Muslims I met defended park 51's right to exist as a matter of passionate principle. others opposed it on grounds of pragmatic wisdom, as they saw it as alienating a lot of ordinary Americans, rightly or wrongly
Sharif El-Gamal:Frank, it has been pretty rough. My wife and children are managing this very well. However, the last 18 months have been stressful, shaking, but ultimately strengthened my resolve and commitment to making Park51 happen.
Dan Reed:Anne, that's exactly what made this such a fascinating film to research. It forced people outside the Muslim community perhaps to make distinctions between Muslims and political Islam... and to begin to think about what an American Muslim identity might mean
Comment From Jamar HerrodI really commend you Sharif for pushing through with Park51 despite the controversy surrounding the location. Have American Muslims in lower Manhattan visited the new location and if so have you received positive or negative feedback since its opening?
Sharif El-Gamal:We have hundreds of American Muslims at PrayerSpace and now Park51 every week and have been serving the community here for two years. The response today is overwhelmingly positive and our community sees this project will have a positive impact on lower Manhattan, and I hope a positive impact nationally.
Comment From GuestSorry, I haven't seen the doc yet... I was wondering are there any of the 9/11 families who are actively supporting/visiting the Park51 development?
Anne Barnard:Sharif and Dan, just one question about "the making of." How did the on-camera visit with Lee Hanson come about? Was that arranged as part of the filmmaking process? Or did it come up spontaneously? If the latter, how did Sharif and Lee come to agree to do it on camera -- what were the risks and benefits to them? Were there off-camera discussions as well? It was brave and revealing if not necessarily leading to a breakthrough, I thought.
Dan Reed:As far as I'm aware Valerie Luchnikowska who lost a nephew int he towers is an adviser to P51?
Sharif El-Gamal:Yes, we have 9/11 family members serving on our advisory board.
Dan Reed:And yes, a number of family member I spoke to support the Mosque... but the majority are opposed.
Sharif El-Gamal:Anne, it was humbling and painful to share Lee's losses. I truly hope we will be able to cultivate a relationship.
Dan Reed:I thought Charlie Wolf made a pretty strong case for the mosque in the film. He lost his British wife in the North Tower
Anne Barnard:It was interesting to see that Lee Hanson knows Daisy Khan through a family connection. Was that connection part of bringing you together?
Sharif El-Gamal:I have to run. This has been a wonderful conversation and I thank you for having me. I hope to see both Anne and Dan soon.
Dan Reed:No, the fact that Lee's niece (if I remember rightly) is a family friend of Daisy Khan's was by-the-by. I decided to approach Lee after Sharif mentioned that he was keen to meet more 9/11 family members.
frontlinepbs:America and #Muslims: By the Numbers http://ow.ly/6FaGR via @AzmatZahra [via Twitter]
Anne Barnard:Thank you both very much!
Anne Barnard:Dan, if you're still there, can you share any personal conclusions that you drew about the project through your work?
Dan Reed:Anne - the exciting thing about P51 for me was being able to observe what I thought was a new type of home-grown American Muslim, a totally authentic, brash New Yorker with the style and mannerism i associated very much with the city, who at the same time was a devout Muslim...
Dan Reed:Sharif felt a lot bolder in his ambitions and a lot more confident in his own brand of Muslim-ness than some of the foreign-born Muslim leaders I met. He seems totally sui generis, and of course was struggling with this new role he'd fallen into as leader of the most controversial mosque project in USA. I wonder how many more Sharifs there are out there in NYC..
Anne Barnard:Very true of Sharif. And many young-generation Muslim community leaders, with their New York-born American accents, gained exposure during the controversy as well. I heard many older, immigrant Muslim organizers say privately that such people's increasing public role will inevitably change Americans' perceptions of Muslims. Specific personalities do go a long way to counter stereotypes... I think there are a lot more Sharifs and a lot more people who aren't Sharif but are equally and inimitably themselves, from whom we'll hear more in the future.
Dan Reed:Anne - thanks so much, great to be able to chat, hope to speak viva voce soon
Anne Barnard:I have to run too but I look forward to continuing this conversation. Take care and thank you for your wonderful, atmospheric work.
FRONTLINE:We're all out of time for today. Thanks again for joining us everyone, and for all of your questions. As always, we wish we had time to get to more. Special thanks to Sharif El-Gamal and Dan Reed, and to our guest questioner Anne Barnard.
Comment From MaryamAs an Architect and a graduate of the Aga Khan Program at Harvard, I recently wrote on piece on 9/11 regarding Park 51 and its place within the past decade's efforts to design a Muslim-American identity. http://elanthemag.com/a-decade-of-designing-a-muslim-american-identity-2/
Comment From GuestVery interesting, Thanks Dan, Ann and Sharif !