PHOTOS: Park51: Disputed mosque opens up its doors

The event drew around 40 people.

On the last night of Ramadan, a rabbi asked dozens of New Yorkers to donate to a Catholic charity in the basement of a mosque.

That was the scene Monday night inside Park51, the controversial Islamic community center known to foes as the “Ground Zero mosque,” due to its two-block proximity to where the World Trade Center used to stand.

The interfaith event, which organizers say was open to all, represented a change in Park51’s outreach efforts. Organizers said it’s the beginning of an effort to be more inclusive.

“We want to be open to everyone,” said Katerina Lucas, the chief of staff for Park51.

The iftar dinner to break the Ramadan fast also served as a donation drive for the soup kitchen at St. Francis Xavier Church on West 15th Street.

But Rosaleen Tallon, whose brother, firefighter Sean Tallon, was killed in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, said no amount of openness from Park51 will make her accept the mosque in its current location.

“I have nothing against the mosque. It has nothing to do with religion, it has to do with respect,” Tallon told Metro. “We want it moved and we will continue fighting. This is whitewashing history. The people who someday enter this mosque may not be so pure of heart.”

Community Board One president Julie Menin was thrilled to hear of the interfaith event, however.
“It’s the first one that I’ve heard of,” she said. “This is exactly the kind of component that the community board wanted.”

Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro.


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