09/21/2011 02:50 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Ground Zero Mosque Developer, Sharif El-Gamal, Regrets Not Involving 9/11 Families

By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press

NEW YORK — The developer of a Muslim cultural center near the World Trade Center says his "biggest mistake" was not involving the families of 9/11 victims from the start.

The center – two blocks from ground zero – opens to the public Wednesday night with a photo exhibit of children.

The developer, Sharif El-Gamal, tells The Associated Press that Park51 is modeled after the Jewish Cultural Center on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

The project, which includes a mosque, has drawn fire from opponents who say they don't want a Muslim prayer space near the site of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

El-Gamal says the center is open to all faiths and will include a 9/11 memorial. He called opposition to the project part of a "campaign against Muslims."

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