Ground-Zero Mosque developer makes "intimidating" phone call to MCC's Raheel Raza
- [Raheel] Raza says she received a call on her cellphone from a man who identified as Sharif El Gamal. “His tone was intimidating,” said Raza. “He accused me of ‘jumping into’ the meeting he called and then said ‘May Allah protect you.’ I was shocked and hung up.” Raza says she took the phone call as a clear threat against her. “Why would I need Allah’s protection?” asked Raza.August 17, 2010Threat over Ground Zero mosqueBy BRIAN LILLEYThe Toronto SUNOTTAWA - She spoke out against the Ground Zero mosque, now a Canadian Muslim woman says she is being threatened. Raheel Raza, a founding member of the Muslim Canadian Congress, calls the idea of a mosque within 300 metres of Ground Zero “a deliberate provocation.”Last week Raza joined Maureen Basnicki a Canadian widow of 9-11 in attending a meeting about the mosque in New York City. “They were very arrogant. They didn’t answer questions,” Raza told QMI Agency.The meeting was hosted by Daisy Khan, the wife of the Imam promoting the mosque and Sharif El Gamal, the man whose property firm owns the land the mosque is to be built on. Raza says she asked questions about who was financing the building, estimated to cost $100 million, and whether any of the money would come from countries other than the United States. There has been much speculation that the mosque is being funded through Saudi Arabian sources but at the Manhattan meeting Raza said there were no answers.On Monday, back in Toronto, Raza says she received a call on her cellphone from a man who identified as Sharif El Gamal. “His tone was intimidating,” said Raza. “He accused me of ‘jumping into’ the meeting he called and then said ‘May Allah protect you.’ I was shocked and hung up.” Raza says she took the phone call as a clear threat against her. “Why would I need Allah’s protection?” asked Raza.Contacted at his New York office El Gamal initially didn’t have much to say. “I’m confused by your phone call,” he said before hanging up. Contacted a second time El Gamal said “There was no phone call made by anybody” before again hanging up the phone to abruptly end the call.Raza insists there was a call, “I saved the number on my cell.” The number on Raza’s cellphone matches that of El Gamal’s Soho Properties offices in New York.The proposal to build a mosque so close to Ground Zero has become a hot political topic in the United States. On Friday U.S. President Barack Obama gave a speech at a dinner to mark the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, his speech seemed to indicate support for the mosque.On Saturday amid a storm of criticism, Obama said he would not comment on the wisdom of building the mosque in that location, only that Muslims have a right to build if there are no local zoning laws stopping it. Mauren Basnicki, who lost her husband Ken in the attacks on the World Trade Center, told QMI Agency she originally had an open mind about the mosque being built so close to the site of the 9-11 attacks, now she is against it.“We all believe in religious tolerance. I don’t think for one minute that this is about religious tolerance,” said Basnicki. Speaking with QMI Agency from her home in Collingwood, Ont., Basnicki says many might be afraid to speak out for fear of being branded as bigoted but to her the location is just insensitive and she’d like to see it move. Basnicki said there has been little outreach to the 9-11 community despite this project being in the works quietly for several years. She compared it to a neighbour putting up a fence without consulting other property owners.New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defiantly supported the mosque location despite criticism. A CNN/Gallup poll released last week said 68% of Americans oppose the mosque location while just 29% support it. New York Governor David Patterson said he supports the mosque location but understands the feelings of many Americans and offered to help the developers find a new plot of land.