Park 51

New York, New York USA

December 1, 2009

Jordan Dudden and Emmett Walker

Park 51 is an Islamic mosque that has received much scrutiny because of its location. In 2010 when the plan to build the structure was first introduced, many complaints arose because of its close proximity to Ground Zero in New York. As millions of Americans remember, 9/11 was one of the most devastating days in American history. Two planes, hijacked by Islamic extremists, were flown directly into the Two Towers in New York City. After this tragic event, this location was left in ruins and the remaining dust acted as the memorial to those who were lost in the crash. Nine years later, two distinct opinions have been formed with the plan to build this mosque: support and opposition. Those who support construction believe that our inherent freedom of religion trumps any misplaced emotions towards Islam, along with its places of worship. Those who oppose the mosque feel it is inappropriately placed and located too close to Ground Zero. Although the conflict of the physical mosque has subsided, the conflict of Islam in America is still evident.

Many people supported the construction of Park 51. Families of victims of 9/11 expressed their support for the project by stating it was not fair to take Muslim’s freedom to express religion. Furthermore, they explained that just because one event happened, they would not hate the entire religion of Islam. They understand that each religion comes with extremists. Some even believed that the building of the mosque would function as an emblem for Americans who recognized that the evil acts of a few people would not damn the rest of the Islamic people who were completely innocent in the situation. The President even acknowledged that the Muslims have the right to build their Islamic center wherever they want to. However, he did declare that it may not have been the “right” decision.

Those who supported the Park 51 mosque believed the structure acted architecturally as an icon of Islamic culture. It is not the location that mattered, but rather the image of Islamic support and community that it represented. Architecture is not only shape and form, but also a way to honor a group of people’s interests into one common space. Although this area was meant to commemorate the lives that were lost in the devastating 9/11 attacks, it was not the exact location of Ground Zero. The Park 51 Mosque, supporters argued, did not intrude on 9/11 memorial space and would not, in any way, attempt to replace or cover it up.

Although supporters noted that Islamic people have freedoms, there were still questions that arose about the Park 51 project. If this project was supported, would the location be permanently changed forever? If the Islamic people were not using the mosque properly, would there be consequences for them? Also, historically, mosque-building projects have been turned down in the United States. What made this situation different? What is the percent difference between approvals of mosque building projects before and after 9/11? On another note, there have been building projects that are not religion-based that have brought up controversy. Why did this topic seem so prominent in the news? There are arguments about building projects not being on safe grounds or not using the right resources that are also important topics. Why has this small argument become a huge controversy?

On the other hand, there are many people who opposed the building of the Park 51 mosque. Many of these people, most of which are New York City inhabitants, felt they have a closer connection to this tragedy than decision makers thousands of miles away. The majority of the opposition was because people felt it was inappropriate to build an Islamic center so close to Ground Zero, which was a memorial caused by radical Islamic terrorists. Relatives of 9/11 victims opposed it because it is a sensitive location to families, friends, and victims and most did not want to go to a memorial where their daughter, son, mother, or father died and look at a giant mosque. Those who opposed felt that it seemed like an arrogant act by the Islamic people. However, New Yorkers were not the only people who opposed the project. Many Islamic people opposed the construction because they felt it was inconsistent with their faith and philosophy of sensitivity towards others. Some Muslim people did not want to be suspected of more radical associations and did not want to ruin their reputation in the United States any more.  Lastly, some Islamic people feared the mosque would become a symbol of victory for Muslims extremists around the world, which was not its intention.

Architecturally, those who opposed the mosque believed its purpose was to praise 9/11 by forcing New Yorkers to look upon such a glamorous building. They believed that Ground Zero should be the only sacred place in the vicinity and ought to be a beautiful sign of resilience, freedom, and hope. Instead, the mosque seemed to have intentions of glorifying itself with its intricate and flashy architecture and even though the reason for the mosque might have been essentially unrelated, there would be no way for New Yorkers to interpret it as “okay” when walking past the building everyday. The meaning of the building to one type of person could be completely different when seen by another.

This project surfaced many questions to those who opposed it. Shouldn’t we be more concerned with the tragedy associated rather than religion? We wanted a nation of peace, but wasn’t mutual understanding the key to peace? Ground Zero was a place to bring people together, wouldn’t the building of an Islamic mosque just cause polarization? Who is funding this project? Islamic extremists? Why didn’t the government intervene? When is close, too close? When looking at other building projects that have caused controversy, spacial factors are key to the problem. Look at the Millennium building case, they land was susceptible of earthquakes. This topic is completely unrelated, but again this theme of proximity and location seem to be the root of the controversy.

Overall, it is apparent that even though this mosque ended up being built, there is still continuing controversy over the topic. Both those who support and those who oppose agree that freedom is essential to being American. Although we, as human beings, must learn to forgive for the world’s horrifying tragedies, it is difficult for both sides to forget the 2,997 people who died on 9/11. This sensitive topic is not a simple “yes” or “no”.  The controversy brings up far more questions than answers, and with this uncertainty comes bold opinions and frustration. Each viewpoint makes sound arguments and contains valid points, which makes this discussion very difficult.  However, one thing is certain: there is no correct answer.



[Frederick , McNulty . College Voice. September 30, 2011. (accessed September 15, 2013).]



[. THE LATEST TWO MINUTE HATE RALLY: ISLAMOPHOBES IN LOWER MANHATTAN. August 23, 2010. (accessed September 15, 2013).]



[Horton, Guy. “At Home in Manhattan: Park51 as Global Architecture.” . (accessed September 15, 2013).]


[Budhu, Ryan. “45 Park Place: The Future Site of the “Ground Zero” Mosque (Park 51 or Cordoba House).” RBudhu (blog), August 28, 2010. (accessed September 15, 2013).]





“Developer of Downtown Mosque Bought a Neighboring Property,” New York Times, April 25,    2013, accessed September 4, 2013,



This newspaper article found online discusses how the project developer of Park 51 has purchased another piece of land that is adjoining to Park 51. The article is indecisive about what the use of this new land will be for, but it may be helpful to find connections in other articles that explain this finding in a more detailed way. It gives clue to possibly another larger problem.


Barnard, Anne, and Alan Feuer. “Outraged, and Outrageous.” The New York Times, October 08, 2010. (accessed September 7, 2013).

This article in the New York Times focuses on the blogger and journalist Pamela Geller’s who has launched a “holy war” on Islam through her website. The rhetoric that she uses in her blog posts is branded as Islam-phobic. This article is important to understand one of the biggest players on the opposition side of the Mosque.



Encyclopedia Entries

Wikipedia. “Park 51 Controversy,” Last modified August 29, 2013,


The Wikipedia page gives great insight to both statistics and personal opinions of many groups and individual people. It contains information about different studies done on different groups of people, which is helpful to find out which side of the controversy is more prominent. It also categorizes information in opposition and support sections so the reader can hear both views of the controversy.


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[short paragraph explaining the relevance of the item and the main insight(s) you take from it]


Scholarly Articles

Kilde, Jeanne. The Park 51/Ground Zero Controversy and Sacred Sites as Contested Space.        working paper., University of Minnesota, 2011. Google Scholars


This scholarly article states the issues caused by the project proposal of the Park 51 Mosque. The article mainly discusses the issues of those who oppose the building of the Mosque. This paper is focused around three arguments: the site is sacred ground, rebuilding is retaliation, and American Civil Religion. This paper gives reasons why the building of this project is a sign of disrespect and hopes to sway the opinions of those who believe in religious liberties.


Takim, Liyakat. The Ground Zero Mosque Controversy: Implications for American Islam. master\., McMaster University, 2011. MDPI (10.3390/rel2020132)

This scholarly journal uses the Park 51 Project as a way to explain how the war on Terror has been misconstrued to be a war on Islam in America. The text even acknowledges that in American culture, Muslims are forced to be accountable for any terror organizations operating in the name of Islam. This article should be vital because it is the complete opposite of the spectrum from Pamela Geller.



Orthographic Documentation

Arak, Joey. Curbed, “Park 51 Architects Say Mosque is, in Fact, at Ground Zero .” Last modified             October 01, 2010. Accessed September 4, 2013.


This site contains multiple photos of new renderings of the Islamic community center. The images show the location of the building, which is helpful in order to grasp the reason why it is upsetting so many people.  Also, these photos reveal some architectural features that are especially unique. These details may also be a concern to those who oppose it because they are very distinct and modern compared to the buildings surrounding it.


Jocylen, Fong. “Memo to Forbes: D’Souza’s “facts” are indeed in contention.” Media Matters For America (blog), September 06, 2010. (accessed September 7, 2013).


This blog post contains a graphic of the Park 51’s relationship to the World Trade Center Memorial as well as the other surrounding religious structures in the area.



Video and Audio

“Ground Zero: Inside the Park 51 Mosque.” Religion. TIME Magazine. Web, http://content.,32068,590040797001_2011959,00.html.

This short video explains the importance of this Mosque to the Islamic people. The people in the video explain that the focus of this piece of architecture is intended to not create a divide, but rather to bring people together. The interviewees are very honest and give their personal opinions to the controversy of whether or not the building project had good intentions. This video will be helpful in determining what the real purpose of the building is but also that it has meaning to those who are of Islamic faith and that is something others should consider.


Sanjay, Gupta, & Ron , Paul. “CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta Interviews Dr. Ron Paul on Ground Zero Mosque” Recorded August 24 2010. CNN: Anderson Cooper 360 August 23 2010. Web,

This is an interview of Ron Paul on Anderson Cooper where he actually defends the Mosque. This video is particularly interesting because Sanjay Gupta asks Ron Paul about why Rand Paul has a completely different viewpoint on the matter. This will also come in hand to show that Park 51 isn’t solely a politically driven problem.


NRT Pac.. “Kill the Ground Zero Mosque TV Ad.” National Republican Trust Bank July 02 2010. Web,

This is a 1 minute propaganda ad created to link the mosque to al-Qaida and other such organizations. Its use of violent imagery can only be categorized as horrific and as a tool is definitely effective in emitting fear from its audience. This video will be important to help talk about the side against Park 51.


Citation used in movie

ThinkProgress2.. “Anti-Park 51 rally attendees echo Isamophobic, Misinformed Fox News, Right-Wing rhetoric” Recorded September 13 2010 September 13 2010. Web,


Bill, Oreilly. “Bill O’Reilly VS The View, Muslims, Park 51, and Rosie O’donnell” October 28 2010. Web,


CAIR NY.. “Setting The Facts Straight for Park 51 Community Center” August 12 2010. Web,


CNN.. Park 51 “Mosque Near Ground Zero” CNN interview with Jihad Turk & Rabbi Jonathan Klein August 20 2010. compact disc,


CBS News.. Obama: No Regrets for Mosque CommentsAugust 16 2010. Web,


CNN .. “Should the Mosque at Park 51 project proceed?” December 9 2012. Web,




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