Park51—The World's First LEED Mosque?
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Previously a Burlington Coat Factory, the new community center at 45-51 Park Place, New York, will be a LEED certified space upon completion. Photo: Michael Appleton for The New York Times The first mosque, in the world according to an article in Th... Religious freedom is an important tenet of these United States—it should apply to all religions, in any part of America, even if the location is controversial. That’s particularly true for a building that, as noted above, may be better called a community center than the “mosque” label that it’s been tagged with. According to the Park51 website, the community center will be “dedicated to pluralism, service, arts and culture, education and empowerment, appreciation for our city and a deep respect for our planet.” Park51 has the potential to serve as a reminder of the distinct separation between the Muslim community and Islamic extremists—shedding light on issues that are often shrouded in misinformation—all while saving energy and creating a sustainable public space. The building is owned by Soho Properties, a well-established New York company whose chief executive officer, Sharif El-Gamal, has been working with this project for 4 years. In an interview with altmuslim.com Sharif El-Gamal said, “Moving forward, I hope and pray the dialogue reaches more New Yorkers and Americans. People have concerns and questions, and we want to answer them in a meaningful way, in a way that lets people know who we really are, what we want to do for the city and how they can be a part of Park51. We have to appeal to the undecided, and change the conversation about Muslims in America. Because of that, we’re offering an open door.” But please, make it a revolving door (to save energy) , and no smoking within 25 feet—this is supposed to be a LEED building, after all. For more information: www.park51.org