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Ground Zero Mosque Opens for Business
by Ryan Mauro
On September 21 at 6:30 PM, the Ground Zero Mosque will open its doors to show a photo exhibit in its community space. Park51 is hoping to discourage its opponents by declaring an early victory in spite of its recent embarrassments and setbacks. This grand opening does not mean that the fight is over. The project still has a long way to go until completion.
The exhibit, called "NYChildren," will showcase the work of Danny Goldfield, who photographed children in the city originating from 171 countries around the world. About $70,000 was raised in less than two months for the temporary community space through KickStarter.com. Over 700 invitations have been distributed for the grand opening, and visitors to Park51's website are registering to attend now. The exhibit will be up for three months. The site will be open Monday through Friday, 12:30 p.m. to 9:00 pm beginning on Thursday.
The photo exhibit is not the Ground Zero Mosque's only attraction. It will have various classes including yoga and Brazilian martial arts, discussion groups, arts programs and, of course, a section for Muslim prayer services. Religious services have been held in the old Burlington Coat factory since 2009. The planned prayer space will accomodate over 2,000 attendees, rivaling St. Patrick's Cathedral. Park51 claims the site is a cultural center, not a mosque, because it will eventually have a gymnasium, swimming pool, art galleries, and other non-religious facilities.
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