In case you were worried the so-called Ground Zero Mosque story was behind us. In a special that aired yesterday NBC dubbed Park 51 developer Sharif el-Gamal one of their persons of the year. A quick search of ‘NBC Person of the Year” reveals the not surprising fact that the right-wing blogs have been all over this the last few days, and Fox & Friends has already done multiple segments on it this morning, including one with an outraged relative of a 9/11 victim.
The choice is an interesting one, especially considering the somewhat lightweight company el-Gamal is keeping: other picks included LeBron James, Kim Kardashian, and Justin Timberlake. Time magazine is famous for picking controversial figures for its ‘Person of the Year’ issue so perhaps NBC was attempting something similar — they can’t have imagined it wouldn’t be controversial, so presumably controversy was the point. Also unclear is why NBC decided to tap el-Gamal instead of Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, who has been at the centre of much of the controversy and was an advisor to President Bush following 9/11.
Meanwhile, nothing terribly revealing came out of the fairly lightweight interview. Gamal reiterated that he is going ahead of the project and that “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.”
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