One of the key moneymen behind the proposed Ground Zero Islamic center said he’d abandon the controversial project and sell the site – if a buyer met his asking price. He’ll even throw in a 1997 Mercury Marquis if the buyer happens to be an 84-year old golfer with wrap around cataract sunglasses.
Hisham Elzanaty, an Egyptian-born businessman who lives on Long Island, said he provided most of the funding for the two buildings that will house the center, and supports a mosque being built a few blocks north of the former World Trade Center, but he also admits that for years that as a Muslim humanitarian he has helped Imam Feisal Abdul Raufhe get the plastic surgery he needs so that he could look like actor Sheldon Leonard.
“He came out looking more like Celine Dion’s husband or that guy from The Discovery Channel’s Mummy Show, but I tried,” said Elzanaty.
Now Elzanaty says he could sell the buildings – potentially worth millions – if the community doesn’t come up with enough cash to build the mosque. In an interview he stated, “I’m a swell guy — I give all my customers a free falafal with every purchase even if they’re not hungry. I say ‘Here Here, take this, take this. It’s good for you.’ I hope they don’t…er…I mean, I hope they come up with the cash so we can build the Islamic community center. If they don’t, I’ll have to cash out.”
“I’m a businessman. This was a mere business transaction for me,” said Elzanaty as he put sawdust in the crankcase of an Audi he’s been trying to unload since last April. “The sawdust keeps the oil pan from leaking and by the time the sawdust gives way, whoever buys the car will be stuck with it and I’ll have high-tailed it outta here long before that happens.”
Referring to the property earmarked for the Islamic Community Center, Elzanaty said, “Develop it, raze it, sell it,” he said. “If someone wants to give me 18 or 20 million dollars today, it’s all theirs. I would even sell it to Steve Rubell because it would make a great after-work disco but he’s dead. People who are allowed to dance still go to disco’s. don’t they? Hey, how about a giant Roma Furniture store. People on Staten Island have been clamoring for years to get a great selection of gaudy furniture at affordable prices — it’s an idea.”
<——–Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
Elzanaty has largely stayed out of the glaring spotlight generated by the Park51 project – said his real estate partnership paid $4.8 million for half the site last year and has already received offers for three times that price. “I’m a religious man,” he said “But I’m not stupid. I could take that money and build a hundred mosques in regular cities, but why shouldn’t I fuck with everybody’s head while I have the chance?”
It was not immediately clear if Elzanaty had the authority or financial stake needed to sell, according to The Associated Press.
The Imam of the mosque Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf conceded Wednesday he would have changed sites if he knew how controversial it would become – but he now believes a switch would anger the radical Muslim world. Also he wants to see how heated the debate gets because up until last week he’d been taking adavantage of the fact that August is a slow news month.
“I really got a lot of free press last month,” said the Sheldon Leonard wanna-be. “I wish August was a little longer. A few more days and I woulda split 50 million with Elzanaty for the place.”
“If we don’t do this right, anger will explode in the Muslim world,” contunued Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf on CNN‘s “Larry King Live.” When Larry King heard the word “explode” he ran out of ths studio and shit his pants. He returned to the studio later and finished the interview on a Hartz Wee Wee pad provided by the Long Island Animal League.
Meanwhile, fearing a Sept. 11 free-for-all at the site of the proposed mosque, the NYPD may shut down the block near Ground Zero, police sources said. This is small potatoes compared to the free for all against western culture it will generate over the years if it is actually built.