Live Chat: Meet the Man Behind the Mosque


September 27, 2011

Remember the so-called “Ground Zero mosque”?

For a few weeks in 2010, it was the country’s biggest news story, a lightning rod in America’s struggle to reconcile itself with the presence of Islam almost a decade after 9/11.

For Sharif El-Gamal — the developer behind the mosque and community center — the story is just beginning. The project — which he has named Park51 — opened its doors with a temporary space just last week.

So what does he have to say about the rancorous national controversy that’s engulfed the project? Why did he want to build it in the first place? And what’s next for the project — and for Sharif?

The Man Behind the Mosque producer Dan Reed followed El-Gamal over several months as he battled to garner support and funds for the project. Now it’s your turn. Sharif and Dan will be joining us for a live chat at 10am ET on Wednesday, September 28.

We’ll also be joined by New York Times reporter Anne Barnard, who has covered the Park51 project for over a year. She’s a frequent contributor to the City Room blog, our partner on today’s chat.

Submit your questions in chat box below anytime, and join us at 10am for the live chat.

El-Gamal is the chairman and CEO of Soho Properties, a Manhattan-based real estate firm that purchased property in lower Manhattan where he intends to build a mosque and community center.

Producer and director of The Man Behind the Mosque, Reed is a freelance filmmaker and writer whose previous documentaries include the Peabody Award-winning film The Valley about the Kosovo war, Terror in Mumbai, and, for FRONTLINE, Battle for Haiti.

Our guest questioner Anne Barnard is an award-winning reporter at the New York Times, where she has covered the Park51 story for over a year. She recently returned from reporting in Libya. Previously she covered the Middle East for The Boston Globe, including covering the Iraq War while living in Baghdad full-time for almost two years.

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