New York, Sept 21 (ANI): Hisham Elzanaty, the Egyptian-born businessman and financer of the proposed Islamic community center and mosque near Ground Zero, has broken his silence for the first time after the controversy ignited a bitter feud in the US, saying that the mosque was his idea and he has no plans to give up on the project.
"I felt it was a great place for people to pray. I'm a regular guy. I'm Muslim. I'm an American, I will never do anything to harm America," The New York Daily News quoted Elzanaty, as saying.
Elzanaty is the single largest investor in the proposed mosque, putting up most of the 4.8 million dollars to buy the old Burlington Coat Factory building at 45 Park Place - two blocks from Ground Zero.
While expressing shock at the controversy over the mosque's proposed location, he said: "I did not expect this commotion, this hate, this anger."
Elzanaty, who lost his parents in an EgyptAir crash in 1999 that he believes was caused by terrorism, said he understands and empathises with the relatives of 9/11 terror attacks and added: I am one of them. I lived this two years before they did."
The Ground Zero mosque has become a bone of contention between the Muslim-Americans and the rest in the country, especially the relatives of September 11 attacks, who have been repeatedly saying that it is against morals to build the Islamic center at a place where thousands of Americans were killed by 'jihadis'. (ANI)