With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 on the horizon, things are chugging along at the World Trade Center site in preparation. On Friday, the mayor announced both President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush will be joining him at the ceremony. Two blocks away, two very short blocks, Sharif El-Gamal is rushing to meet his own September deadline.
Mr. El-Gamal, the developer of the Park51 community center that sparked a furor last year because some Floridians and Fox News commentators don’t know downtown geography, is still struggling to raise funds for the project. On Friday night, Park51 launched a fundraiser aimed at raising $7 million over the next month and a half, according to WNYC. The deadline for the funds is Sept. 10, which Mr. El-Gamal called “a motivational deadline,” its proximity to the 10th anniversary merely a coincidence.
WNYC also reports that the project’s name has been changed to PrayerSpace, but that appears to simply be the name of the 2,000-seat chapel planned for the 15-story community center, first known as Cordoba House and more widely called the “ground zero mosque,” while the overall project is still Park51.
Mr. El-Gamal recently told Huffington Post he hopes new protests will not be sparked this summer by anticipation of 10th anniversary. He gave an impassioned speech to donors Friday, during which he said Park51 is “an opportunity to show the world who we are, and what we believe in, and what our practice is, and what our faith is.”