Hundreds of New Yorkers rushed through the open doors of Park51
yesterday evening for a first glimpse of what has come to be New York City’s most famous — and
controversial — mosque.

Sharif El-Gamal, the developer of the community center and mosque, spoke at the event.

“We have been framed in a certain way, and today is the first day Park51 can show what it will offer New York,” he said, adding he hoped the center will be “a place that will bring a wounded community together.”

Park51 is housed in what used to be a Burlington Coat Factory store, which was damaged in the 9/11 attacks.


Critics blast the mosque for its proximity to Ground Zero; an NYPD officer stood watch outside the center last night, although no protesters showed up.

The mosque portion of Park51 has been open for religious worship for a year, but last night was the first time the community center opened its doors to the public.

Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro.

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