Children photography exhibits opens at Park51, Islamic community center in Manhattan

by Prince Yusadolat
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To view more photos of the NY Children exhibit at Park 51 Islamic Community Center event, click here.

By Arao Ameny

Rana Singh Sodhi, a Sikh, a Sikh, who lost his brother on 9/11 terrorist attacks

New York,NY– On Sept. 7, the Islamic center that was in the center of controversial debate over cultural sensitivity for its closeness  the World Trade Center opened its doors with a photography exhibit of children residing in New York from over 160 countries

The Park51, the Islamic community center, located in lower Manhattan held it first event, called NYChildren, showcased photographs of diverse youth from all over the world to reflect the diversity of the City.

Members of the Muslim and non-Muslim communities from the New York metropolitan area attended the event. The New York Arabic Orchestra provided music for the exhibit.

Photographer Danny Goldfield said that Park51 was the ideal place to have the exhibit because it is place that brings people from all backgrounds together.

Sharif El-Gamal, chairman of Park51 speaks at grand opening

“I think a lot of people who are opposed to the center [Park 51] and I don’t really know where they are coming from because the mission this place is to build something that brings people together and I’m hoping people will hear about it and participate,” Goldfield said.

The photographer said that he still had 24 remaining countries of children to photograph to complete the exhibit and said he hoped everyone, regardless of faith, would come out to see what the community center was about. “I love the idea the people may come down here or anxious about coming here and the people will recognize themselves in the photos,” Goldfield said.

Goldfield said that when he first started off with the project, he didn’t know what he was getting himself into, saying “I thought I would do something ethnographic or pictures on the wall and I then soon realized I want capture the spirit of the individual.”

In the future, the photographer said that exhibit is only the beginning. Youth schools and parents should expect some programming and education targeting youth in the near future. “We plan to bring school groups in here and start education programming,” he said.

Rana Sing and friends at Park51 grand opening

Sharif El-Gamal, chairman of Park51, said that when he met Danny Goldfield, Park51 was still in its infancy. “I am proud that his photographs are part of the art exhibit and opening this center is a great accomplishment.” Goldfield’s photographs have been featured in LIFE magazine, The New York Times, CNN, BBC.

 

Rana Sing, a Sikh, who lost his brother on 9/11 terrorist attacks, said he was here to support Goldfield, “I am here to show the world that we should respect each other and love each other and make life for our future and our present.”

Singh said that his message to the youth is that people in America live in melting pot and should understand and respect people. “Don’t be hateful to anyone. We need to educate more people is my message for the youth,” Singh said.

A kid looks at photos of other New York children from around the world

Dhruv Jagasia fromNew Jersey, a college student fromNew Jersey, said that the exhibit showed that New Yorkers and the country were moving forward. “I think it is trying to show the diversity ofNew Yorkand there is no place for hate crimes like that,” he said

“I would tell them there is not place for intolerance and this is what this event highlights. Personally, I think we are moving forward after 9/11. When it [9/11] happened, a lot discrimination was against Muslim people, against dark skinned people and it feels like we are moving forward,” Jagasia said.

 

Mawahib O Gerjah,a mother of son Abdullah, said this exhibit is important because it is a sign of solidarity as New Yorkers. “This is a place his friends can come to find answers to questions that they might have about Islam and about people from different countries and this is what the NY Children exhibit is about. My son participated in this project,” she said.

Mawahib O Gerjah and son Abdullah at the NYChildren exhibit at Park51

Gerjah said that the exhibit was important to because it helps Muslims show solidarity about Islam. “It helps us bring answers and in this place [Park51], we can get together and  feel at ease to talk about things here,” she said.

NYChildren exhibit will run for the next three months.

 

To view more photos of the NY Children exhibit at Park 51 Islamic Community Center event, click here.

 

 

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