The Islamic cultural center that has come under widespread attack from Republicans and other opponents over the past year has finally opened its doors in downtown New York City. The Park51 Community Center — dubbed by opponents the “Ground Zero Mosque” for its proximity to the site of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center — officially began operations on Wednesday. The center marked the occasion with a photography exhibition from New York City children who hail from all over the world. The chair of Park51, Sharif El-Gamal, spoke at the center’s opening.
Sharif El-Gamal: “I knew immediately that I wanted this to be the first event that we were going to do at Park51. This event not only represents the diversity of our city, a place that I call home, New York, but this project also represents a little glimpse into the foundation and the bedrock of what this project is all about. We want to serve New York. We want to serve every single child and every single person in New York City. And, you know, this exhibition represents what we stand for: inclusion, community building and diversity.”