(Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
The organizers of Park51, an Islamic community center and mosque that is being constructed near New York City's ground zero, announced that its first public event will be held on Wednesday.
The NYChildren photo exhibition will serve as an “inaugural event” in their newly remodeled community space on Park Place. The rest of the Park51 building, dubbed the "ground zero mosque" by those critical of the property, is still undergoing renovations.
Park51, which will include a mosque, health club, and theater, is still years away from being completed.
This week’s exhibition is scheduled to coincide with the United Nation's International Day of Peace on Sept. 21 as well as a meeting between the U.N. General Assembly and Clinton Global Initiative, according to a press release on Park51's website.
"NYChildren photography was inspired by the idea that the better we know our neighbors, the more open and healthy our lives become,” said artist Danny Goldfield, who created NYChildren. "My goal is to photograph one child from every country on earth and find them all living in New York City."
Photographs of children from over 160 countries will be showcased.
"I met Danny Goldfield when Park51 was still a new idea. Danny told me about NYChildren and I said his photographs should be the first art exhibit at Park51," said Sharif El-Gamal, chairman of Park51. "I am proud to say the idea has been realized. Opening this incarnation of the community center is a fantastic accomplishment."
Park51, originally named "Cordoba House," set off a firestorm of controversy last year as thousands of protesters rallied against what they believed to be the construction of a "mega mosque" near ground zero.
The "ground zero mosque" was a sensitive topic for many people who believed its proximity to ground zero was an insult to those who died during the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center.
Park51 Chief of Staff Katerina Lucas said the exhibit will hopefully show those opposed to the Islamic center that the space is meant to be one of peace and unity, The Associated Press reported.