Its right to exist was bitterly contested. But in multi-cultural New York, an Islamic centre has finally opened its doors close to the World Trade Center site, with protesters nowhere to be seen.
An exhibition of photographs of children marked the event in a complex planning to offer social, recreational, health and educational facilities.
The youngsters featured hail from across the world but all live in New York. Organisers say the centre, at 51 Park Place, is open to all in the city.
“We want to serve New York,” said Park 51 Chairman Sharif El-Gamal. “We want to serve every single child and every single person in New York City. And you know, this exhibition represents what we stand for – inclusion, community, building and diversity.”
The prayer space at the centre caused most controversy in what some dubbed the ‘Gound Zero Mosque.’ Critics said it was offensive to let Muslims worship so close to the scene of the attacks of September 11, 2001.