It's day whatever in the "Ground Zero" mosque debate crisis, and the perpetrators still refuse to release their hostages: the members of the media—clearly suffering from Stockholm Syndrome—who show no signs of even wanting to be rescued from the repetitive prison of this manufactured non-story. But to be fair, our captors have been so good to us, feeding us a daily supply of increasingly delicious pull quotes from right-wing demagogues. Today there's even more comments from the Mayor of 9/11 Town himself, Rudolph Giuliani!
"This project is creating tremendous pain for people who've already made the ultimate sacrifice," opined Giuliani during an interview with Matt Lauer. "All you're doing is creating more division, more anger, more hatred. I know some people who are crying over this." How come the Constitution has to be so damn insensitive? (Here's video of the interview.) And one unexpected voice to join the anti-mosque chorus is failed presidential wannabe Howard Dean, who told WBAI, "That site doesn’t belong to any particular religion." Yes, and to keep the old Burlington Coat Factory a bastion of secularism, Dean thinks "another site would be a better idea... but I would look to do that with the cooperation of the people who are trying to build the mosque."
Meanwhile, a reporter over at ABC finds that the developer of the proposed Islamic community center will not rule out accepting funding from overseas sources, including Saudi Arabia and Iran. (The developer also refuses to rule out turning the mosque into an anchor baby orphanage.) Oz Sultan, a spokesman for the center, now called Park51, would not comment on raising the expected $100 million from Middle East donors, but did say, "We'll look at all available options within the United States to start. We're hoping to fund this predominately from domestic donors."
The imam who will preside over Park51, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is headed overseas as part of a three-nation Middle East tour on behalf of the State Department. A State Department official says cost of the trip is $16,000. He's prohibited from raising money for the proposed center during his trip, but the topic is sure to come up, as he is expected to give speeches about Muslim life in America and religious tolerance. In an interview with Capital New York, the former Pakistani ambassador to the UK, Akbar S. Ahmed, said the controversy is just strengthening the Taliban, because "the mosque and the controversy that’s surrounding it right now is of such huge proportions that it is unlikely that any Muslim who’s following the news is going to ignore commenting... In the Muslim world they see this as just a mosque and it is being attacked."
And it's also being reported today that this whole mess can be traced back to reality TV. The Park Place location that will house the Islamic center was discovered by a young man who was hired by developer Sharif el-Gamal, who spotted him on an episode of "American Inventor." "I saw him on TV and I like him," el-Gamal tells the Daily News, explaining that in 2006 he hired Francisco Patino, a Colombian immigrant who was 19 at the time, to scout out properties for the Islamic community center. Now 23, Patino has thus far been silent on whether he thinks the mosque will make a mockery of 9/11, but he's asking his bosses at Chase bank for permission to speak to the media. Developing!