An Islamic center and Ground Zero
As plans move forward to building an Islamic center and Mosque near ground Zero in New York, the anti-Muslim and anti-Islam bigots are gathering support and steam. Some opponents tall us that the thirteen story building will house all sorts of “secrets” to help destroy the US, some tell us if a cultural cent-Mosque is permitted so close to Ground Zero, it will be seen as a victory for the extremists. Others do away with such seemingly “rational” excuses and focus on their hate towards Islam; “It will advance Sharia!” they tell us, while not understanding that Sharia has nothing at all, to do with the version poured into us by the media.
The most persuasive arguments are those that hide behind the real or imaginary sensitivities of the relatives and survivors of the 9-11 tragedy. These arguments are carried in signs that have portraits of the victims with “We will NEVER forget”. The proponents of this argument tell us that they don’t care where a Mosques is built as long as it is nowhere near Ground Zero because that would be an insult to the memories of those who were killed in the Twin Towers. This argument has been picked up by the media and the public all over the country.
So persuasive is the argument for the sensitivities of the victims’ families they even my neighbor, a very kind and gentle Christian Pastor, agreed that perhaps this should be give consideration and the center should not be built so close to Ground Zero.
We are a free society and we do promote the highest aspirations of freedom, democracy and plurality in this country. Our constitution is clear on this matter, the First Amendment guarantees all faiths, the equal rights to establishment and to practice.
ALL faiths, including Islam; Muslims want nothing more and certainly nothing less than what is allowed to other faiths in this country.
What if Jews said they did not want any Churches near any of the European death camps?
What if Muslims said they did not want any Mandirs near the genocide sites in Gujarat?
We must not pander to bigotry; such arguments are never brought up when it comes to other faiths, but for Islam, it appears that there are no limits to how hate can be focused against it. Banning an Islamic presence near Ground Zero, will only solidify the calumny that Islam is an evil, violent faith that does not deserve to exist in the US. The proponents of the “sensitivities” argument ignore the fact that fully ten percent of the victims at the Twin Towers were Muslim, judging by their names…not counting the Muslim victims who had non-traditional names.
Instead of taking the lowest standard of fear and hate, why not take the high road? An Islamic cultural center and a Mosque in a thirteen-story building that provides for religious and social activities such as swimming, restaurant, child care and auditorium, would bring together people of all faiths and increase inter-action between other faiths and Islam. Such a center would make the statement that regardless of what made the 19 murderers perpetrate their violence against America, Islam is represented by the center and by the people who promote it. It would make the statement that the people of the United States embrace each other and reject the bigotries that are so prevalent on so many other countries.
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