In an interview set to air on Thanksgiving Day, Matt Lauer sat down with El-Gamal and discussed the "Park 51 Project." El-Gamal, who was apparently pleased to be named one of NBC's people of the year, seemed very comfortable answering questions. The excerpt released so far shows that Mr. Lauer gave El-Gamal a decidedly softball interview. Here is a partial transcript of El-Gamal's opening statements:
"There's going to be a facility here that's going to provide aquatics, uh, uh, uh, a gym, just like a Jewish community center or, or a YMCA. It's going to provide, uh, much needed facilities to the residents of Lower Manhattan."Lauer responds that there is "one major exception" to El-Gamal's statement, describing the 9/11 terrorist attacks. However, El-Gamal's quickly responded:
"Not once have I held my faith accountable for the horrific events of 9/11. I am an American. I am an American who has a specific belief system, and my belief system, in order to be a Muslim you have to be a good Jew and a good Christian."After the interview, "Park51," a Twitter page set up in support of the Ground Zero Mosque, believed the interview went well and asked people to watch the entire interview on Thursday:
The controversy surrounding the Mosque has been drawn out and at times heated, but here is a quick summary of the events so far. As we all know, the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001 by Islamic extremists who flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, while another hi-jacked plane crashed after passengers fought back. Nine years later, the Freedom Tower, which will replace the Twin Towers, is slowly being built.
Two blocks away from what is known as Ground Zero, there are now plans to build an Islamic Mosque and community center. Controversy has thus ensued. The vast majority of Americans (over 65%) believe that the Mosque should not be built so close to where over 2,500 Americans were murdered in the name of Islam. Those in favor of the Mosque argue that the Constitution protects freedom of religion, and thus protects the construction of what they call the Park 51 Project.