The developer of an Islamic community center and mosque near the World Trade Center site doesn't seem too keen on Governor Paterson's offer to find a new location for the project on state property away from Lower Manhattan. Yesterday Paterson offered to look into trying to provide them with state property at a distance from Ground Zero to "accommodate a better feeling among the people who are frustrated." (Newt Gingrich's No Mosque Zone will come in handy here.) Last night the developer, Sharif El-Gamal, politely declined.
"While we have a tremendous amount of respect for our governor, and we are always interested in hearing what our leaders have to say, and what their ideas and proposals are. But this has always been about serving Lower Manhattan," proposed mosque developer Sharif El-Gamal told NY1, which published a story on its website with the seemingly contradictory headline "Mosque Developer Open To Paterson Proposal." The Post praised Paterson in an editorial which reads, "In notable contrast with Mayor Mike—who sanctimoniously declared that foes of the project 'ought to be ashamed of themselves'—the gov said he is 'sensitive to the desire of those who are adamant against it to see something else worked out.'"
Meanwhile, the Times has a thorough look at how El-Gamal and the group behind the Islamic Center were completely unprepared for the backlash to their project, which they envisioned as a kind of Muslim Y. They didn't even have anyone handling publicity for them until May, and one of the main organizers, Daisy Khan, tells the Times, "It never occurred to us. We have been bridge builders for years." El-Gamal adds, "This might become the most famous community center in the world."