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A Mosque at Ground Zero? Bring It On!

June 7, 2010

Why build a mosque HERE? It's a crazy idea that just might work.

Score another round for the children of Allah. In New York last week, the Manhattan Community Board voted 29-1 (with 10 abstentions) in favor of a plan to build a 13-story Islamic center, complete with mosque, two blocks from Ground Zero.

The two Muslim organizations sponsoring the project have said they want to establish a world-class facility that promotes tolerance, interfaith cooperation and a moderate vision of Islam that combats the widespread notion that Muslims simply want to kill infidels and eradicate Western Civilization. (Well, those weren’t their exact words.)

The American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative bought an existing building on the site last year, and they plan to break ground for the new center later this year — assuming the project receives a final go-ahead from the city. (Some opponents of the project want to grant landmark status to the current building, which dates from before the Civil War.) A Friday prayer service has been held at the site since last September.

The proposed Cordoba House would include a performing arts space, a swimming pool, a culinary school, child care facilities and a built-in mosque. Its sponsors see the complex as the Muslim equivalent of New York’s famous 92nd Street Y, which hosts prominent speakers and welcomes visitors of all faiths. Of course, numerous other New Yorkers (not to mention Tea Party activists from around the country) see it as a willful desecration of hallowed ground — an insult to the memories of the nearly three thousand souls who perished in the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is spearheading the drive to build Cordoba House, begs to differ. 

“We have condemned the terror of 9/11,” he said. “We have worked to ensure that our mosques are not recruiting grounds for terrorists.” He added that the 9/11 attacks also killed members of his own congregation and community.

“We condemn terrorists,” the Imam reiterated. “We recognize it exists in our faith, but we are committed to eradicate it,” he said. “We want to rebuild this community. This is about moderate Muslims who intend to be and want to be part of the solution.”

I’m willing to take the Imam at his word if he’s willing to deliver. As long as the proposed Cordoba House emerges as a prominent bastion of tolerance and goodwill, its presence in Lower Manhattan should go a long way toward healing the wounds of 9/11 and establishing a much-needed public platform for Islamic moderates.

I can understand the outrage of those who wish the Muslims would just go away. But I’m more than willing to support an outspoken moderate movement in the Muslim community, and the Cordoba House seems like as good a place as any to start.

What kind of message will the new center send to the outside world (and especially the Islamic world)? I suspect it depends on who’s doing the interpreting. Reasonable Muslims would view it as a symbol of our cultural tolerance and our commitment to freedom of religion. Radical Muslims would probably see it as confirmation that a degenerate America has lost its will to fight. (There’s no impressing the radicals.) 

At least the perception of American goodwill might prevent thousands of Muslim youths from sliding down the well-greased chute that leads to radicalism and terrorism. Let’s hope the Imam and his partners have the courage and character to build a monument to moderation. Let’s also hope the radicals (both Muslim and anti-Muslim) don’t screw it up.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. tzivia zeidman permalink
    June 8, 2010 9:24 am

    Ground Zero is a memorial site. Maybe building a Mosque next to it will be a perfect reminder who brought the symbol of America down.

  2. Priscilla permalink
    June 8, 2010 9:47 am

    I have read some troubling things about this imam, and the inconsistencies between what he says publicly in the English-speaking press, versus his private comments to his followers. I am not optimistic that this mosque will be a bastion of tolerance towards those of non- Islamic faith. Part of that is due to the nature of Islam itself….it is a religion that condemns, or, at best, “dhimmifies” non-believers. Also, American liberalism has determined that it is Christianity that is the enemy of free society, focusing its disdain on the smallest, most fringe elements of fundamentalist Christianity, while wringing its collective hands over the “intolerance” shown to Muslims who quietly support sharia and jihad.

    That said, I totally support the right of this imam and his group to build their center. It is their property and they have every right to build whatever they want on it, as long as they do not interfere with the rights of others. It is not on Ground Zero, and, while I respect and sympathize with those who consider it an affront to the families of the victims, I cannot agree that their feelings of outrage and hurt should trump the constitutional rights of others.

  3. June 8, 2010 11:31 am

    Welcome to The New Moderate, Tzivia. I have to admit that my initial response to the proposed mosque was “What were they THINKING?” But the imam is being portrayed as someone who genuinely wants to distance himself from the Islamist radicals. The cynic in me wonders if that’s just for the sake of good PR, but the idealist in me is willing to give him a chance.
    Priscilla: I’d be curious to see if the imam’s private comments depart substantially from his public statements. I know he supported breaking the blockade of Gaza, but you don’t have to be a radical to take that position. If he’s exposed as a dissembler, then the entire project would be suspect. But as you say, the property is theirs.

    • Anonymous permalink
      June 8, 2010 1:03 pm

      Look at the Mosques in England:

      They claim to be moderate too… Although this Mosque isn’t Saudi backed, (I think, not a lot of fact checking here.) and the Imam is a Sufi, one of the smaller sects of Islam. If it’s a tolerant Mosque, this could be a good thing, if it’s a regular Mosque… I see very bad things happening. 😦

  4. Anonymous permalink
    June 8, 2010 5:10 pm

    tz: “Ground Zero is a memorial site. Maybe building a Mosque next to it will be a perfect reminder who brought the symbol of America down.”

    -This is Typical Jew humour

    Muslims wanted to destroy the symbol of rich Americans on so called christian soil. Who are the rich of America? A lot of people say they are Jews who work in Madoff style.

    America was brought down by an American Imbecile – G.W. Bush aka “The Decider” who listened at the god (Yahveh? ) and started two demented wars.

    • June 9, 2010 12:05 pm

      LOL U MAD

      • June 9, 2010 12:07 pm

        No really, I bet he’s “mad” as in crazy…

  5. Priscilla permalink
    June 8, 2010 10:24 pm

    Troll alert ^^

  6. Emma permalink
    June 14, 2010 3:22 pm

    I live in the south, but in an urban area with a larger than usual Muslim community. I still remember the taunts and bullying that the Arab and Muslims students had to endure, and we were only 9 or 10 during 9/11. They didn’t fly a plane into a building. They didn’t know anyone who thought flying a plane into a building was a good idea. But they were punished for sharing heritage with people who did.

    Over and over again, we see Christians on tv after a Christian kills someone for his faith, protests a military funeral, calls for the extermination of an entire group of people, flies a plane into a building over *taxes* of all things, and they say “No! They’re not real Christians! They’re a minority!”

    Christians and Muslims and Jews are all exactly the same. Their religions have been used to justify genocide, oppress women, and silence minorities. Should we not build any Catholic churches in Germany because Hitler was a Catholic? Should we not build any Protestant churches in the the southeast US because Christianity was used to justify slavery?

    • taliesin permalink
      June 14, 2010 4:01 pm

      No, we shouldn’t build Catholic churches because the Catholic Church engages in massive cover ups of pedophilia, and we shouldn’t build baptist churches because they lobby and protest against equal rights for _all_ Americans.

    • June 15, 2010 10:22 am

      Well said, Emma. The extremists in any religion make the ordinary believers look bad. I just wish the moderate Muslims would speak out against the terrorists and jihadists. There’s a good website called Muslims Against Sharia, but it’s a lone (and not very loud) voice of opposition.

      Christianity and Judaism haven’t quite been taken over by the fanatics to the extent that Islam has. Decent Muslims really need to come out and distance themselves from the extremists; even more important, they need to start a reform movement to fight those who have perverted their religion. Islam shouldn’t be an ideology of violence.

  7. August 22, 2010 5:43 am

    I beg to differ, Rick. In Israel, I think you will find no shortage of Jewish fanatics – most of whom come from the US. As for Christianity, it wasn’t so long ago (okay 1,000 years) that Christians were engaged in the Crusades. Then there’s the Westboro Baptist Church… Islam hasn’t been ‘taken over’ by extremists; there happens to be a hardcore of extremists in their ranks. But hang on, what about the abortion clinics that have been bombed by so-called Christians? What about the abortionists who have been killed by them? I take it they’re not ‘extremists’? Any religion can become an “ideology for violence”. Even Buddhism in Sri Lanka was an “ideology for violence”.

    • August 23, 2010 9:59 am

      Some good points there, Buddyhell. Yes, nearly every religion has its share of obnoxious and dangerous fanatics. It’s just that Islamic fanaticism is sanctioned and even promoted by the Koran. So anyone who takes the Koran at its word is going to be a fanatic; it takes a rational detachment from the Koran NOT to be a fanatic. With Christianity, the opposite is true: only those who pervert the Bible become militant fanatics. (That Westboro Church is a public nuisance and I think the pastor should be locked up.) Judaism is a curious case: there’s a lot of Jewish supremacist verbiage in the Old Testament, but most Jews simply don’t take it seriously. I can see where the supremacist mentality might be a problem in Israel, though.

  8. valdobiade permalink
    August 23, 2010 3:54 pm

    I read about a lot of ideas about what to build near the Mosque at the “ground zero”: A pork meat shop and a gay bar. Well, nobody thought that the best idea is to build a synagogue. It will show how tolerant these to religions can be when they are on American soil.

    • August 23, 2010 6:33 pm

      Valdo: Your idea might be the best yet… even better than a bar called “Outfidel.” The new synagogue would be built in the spirit of Jewish-Muslim brotherhood, of course. I’d love to see how the Imam would respond.

  9. Isa permalink
    December 30, 2010 4:47 pm

    It is an act of war to build this mosque. Whoever supporst it is a traitor.

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