Muslim Prayers Near Ground Zero
Don't tell Kevin Barrett about this, or for that matter the no-planers.
On that still-quiet Tuesday morning, the sales staff was in a basement room eating breakfast, waiting to open the doors to the first shoppers at 10 a.m.
There was no immediate sign of the fiery cataclysm that erupted overhead starting at 8:46. But out of a baby-blue sky suddenly stained with smoke, a plane’s landing-gear assembly the size of a World War II torpedo crashed through the roof and down through two empty selling floors of the Burlington Coat Factory.
The Sept. 11, 2001, attack killed 2,752 people downtown and doomed the five-story building at 45 Park Place, two blocks north of the World
Trade Center, keeping it abandoned for eight years.
But for months now, out of the public eye, an iron gate rises every Friday afternoon, and with the outside rumblings of construction at ground zero as a backdrop, hundreds of Muslims crowd inside, facing Mecca in prayer and listening to their imam read in Arabic from the Koran
Some may balk, but you have got to like the attitude of the imam:
The location was precisely a key selling point for the group of Muslims who bought the building in July. A presence so close to the World Trade Center, “where a piece of the wreckage fell,” said Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the cleric leading the project, “sends the opposite statement to what happened on 9/11.”
“We want to push back against the extremists,” added Imam Feisal, 61.
One of the family members weighs in, unlike A.K. Dewdney, they manage to get her name right.
The F.B.I. said Imam Feisal had helped agents reach out to the Muslim population after Sept. 11. “We’ve had positive interactions with him in the past,” said an agency spokesman, Richard Kolk. Alice Hoagland of Las Gatos, Calif., whose son, Mark Bingham, was killed in the hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, said, “It’s quite a bold step buying a piece of land adjacent to ground zero,” but she said she considered plans for the site “a noble effort.”