Since a proposal to construct a 15-story mosque and community center two blocks from Ground Zero was announced last year, the project has been a focus of widening protests. To be named Cordoba House, the project would require demolition of two buildings at 45-47 Park Place and Broadway that were damaged on 9/11. They would be replaced by a glass and steel 100,000-square-foot structure with a new address, 45-51 Park Place.
According to its sponsors, the Cordoba Initiative and the American Society of Muslim Advancement (ASMA), the structure would cost $100 million and would include "a 500-seat auditorium, swimming pool, art exhibition spaces, bookstores, restaurants," and an area for Islamic prayer. The Cordoba Initiative and ASMA were created by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a Kuwait-born cleric of Egyptian background.
Every inch the professional moderate, Rauf has the imprimatur of the State Department, which sent him on an international bridge-building tour earlier this year. And he has cloaked the Cordoba effort in the rhetoric of reconciliation, describing himself and his colleagues as "the anti-terrorists." But he deflects inquiries about its financing. On July 7, New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio called on state attorney general Andrew Cuomo, who is also Lazio's Democratic opponent in the coming election, to "conduct a thorough investigation" of three aspects of the project: