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Your Tax Dollars at Work

Whoa. Well, you’ve got to give them points for chutzpah.

The developers of the Ground Zero Mosque — sorry, Park51 — have applied for a $5 million federal grant from a fund set up to redevelop lower Manhattan after 9/11.

This shouldn’t concern you, though. According to the Daily Beast, developer Sharif El-Gamal “is motivated more by real estate ambition—one [source] describes him as aspiring to be the next Donald Trump—than Islamic theology or ideology.”

I feel better already. But hang on — the total lack of any conversation with the community in advance of this play for federal money is a little…unsettling, no? That’s the view of at least one observer:

“If Imam Feisal and his retinue want know why they’re not trusted, here’s yet another reason,” says Irshad Manji, author of The Trouble with Islam and director of the Moral Courage Project at NYU, when I asked her about the grant proposal. “The New Yorkers I speak with have questions about Park51. Requesting money from public coffers without engaging the public shows a staggering lack of empathy—especially from a man who says he’s all about dialogue.”

The Daily Beast says “The audacious move stands to reignite the embers of a divisive debate that dominated headlines surrounding the ninth anniversary of the attacks this fall, say people vested in the issue.”

Yeah, that sounds about right.