Park51, the proposed Islamic community center and mosque in downtown Manhattan, has applied for federally-funded grants, prompting shrill cries that the "Ground Zero mosque" is looking for a taxpayer handout.
The Daily Beast reported yesterday that Park51 had applied for $5 million worth of grants. The organization, in a statement, acknowledged applying for a grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Park51 says it would use the money both for its construction and services it plans to offer, including domestic violence prevention and foreign language classes.
The news has the potential to re-ignite the furor over the planned community center, which by all accounts has largely died down. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has jumped onto the news, calling it "Outrageous to even consider federal funds go to building a mosque at Ground Zero." Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the likely chair of the next Homeland Security Committee and not exactly a champion of the Muslim community, told Fox News it's an "affront to the memory of all those who were murdered on 9/11. It's taking, in effect, money that was appropriated after the World Trade Center attacks, taking that money, taxpayer money, hard-earned taxpayer money to use it to help to build this 13-story edifice."
Fox itself has been running reports on the news since it broke. For one example, a reporter stationed today outside the old Burlington Coat Factory building where the center will be built described the group as having "their hand out to the government" and said, "There's anger and outrage in the streets of New York today."
The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the organization that's in charge of building a memorial at Ground Zero and revitalizing a large area around the site, was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and funded by a grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.