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A proposed Muslim community center near 9/11's "ground zero"

2010-MAY-JUN: Illume magazine report on
board meeting. This website's Facebook posting.

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2010-MAY-27: Reactions to the center's construction, according to Illume magazine:

Illume is a Muslim-American news source. They reported on a Manhattan Community Board meeting that discussed whether to approve construction of Cordoba House. After four hours of emotional debate, the board voted 29 to 1 in favor of allowing the center's construction.

According to Illume

"Opponents of the project protested the proposal, waving pictures of loved ones killed in the World Trade Center and holding up signs that read, 'Honor 3,000, 9/11 -- No mosque'!"

"Chaplain Viviana Hernandez worried that 9/11 victims' families 'would be wounded by erecting a mega-mosque so close to the place where their loved ones were massacred'."

The number 3,000 refers to the approximate number of persons of various religions, races, and genders who died during the WTC attack.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf also addressed the meeting. He pointed out that many Muslim groups had condemned the 9/11 attacks and have:

"... worked to ensure that [their] mosques are not recruiting grounds for terrorists. ... We are Americans, we are Muslim Americans. Many of us were born in the United States. We have no higher aspirations than to bring up our children in peace and harmony in this country."

Manhattan Borough board member Rob Townley described the board's decision as "a seed of peace." He believes:

"... that this is significant step in the Muslim community to counteract the hate and fanaticism in the minority of the community."

Catholic priest Kevin Madigan of St. Peter's Church, said:

"I think they need to establish a place such as this for people of goodwill from mainline Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths so we can come together to talk." 1

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Starting 2010-MAY-27: Some postings from readers of the Illume article:

It is surprising how many people seem to incorrectly believe that the cultural center is to consist only of a mosque, and/or that the mosque is to be built on top of or immediately adjacent to ground zero:

  • Jackie Lenz wrote:
    "Sick, sick, sick. Have we lost our senses? The Muslim faith murders thousands of our fellow Americans and 10 yrs later, build a mosque next to the crime scene. Mind baffling."
  • Saleha Kahn wrote:
    "[Note to] Jackie Lenz: It is not the Muslim faith that murders thousands of people, it is an individual of that faith. Even then there has to be a reason for someone to take such a huge step. Do you think those "terrorist" were never normal people? You don't know about their background so don't assume anything. If seeing your whole neighborhood dying and suffering in front of you is not torturing...you have no feelings. I'm not encouraging people to start taking revenge on innocent people, but when someone is emotionally hurt they don't think."

    "You should not generalize the whole religion for a few people. It's like saying all Christians are the infamous terrorist group KKK (Which I know they are not!). While 3,000 people died in the USA in 9/11, more than 600,000 people have died in Iraq since 2003 (New York Times). Not that the 3,000 don't count; either way innocent people are dying by fighting on the name of religions. Stop the hatred we should respect each other because no one gains when someone dies. Life is too short to be spent fighting, lets forget our differences and live in peace."
  • Mike wrote:
    "I'm not here to criticize any religion, everybody has a right to their own beliefs. However, I am here to defend the 3,000 dead in the 9/11 attacks. I think it is quite safe to assume that more than 95% of the victims were not Muslim, (there were way more Jewish people than Muslims) so why build a mosque over them. Do it somewhere else. This is religious imperialism by the Muslims and needs to stop. You can build your mosque, just not in such a disrespectful manner."
  • "Australian Muslim" wrote:

    "Many Muslims died in those buildings on Sept. 11 too you know. In any case it has been approved so the project is going ahead! For all of you who hate Islam let it be known that we don't hate you and we will be around till the end of times! :) Hallelujah!!!"

  • Emma wrote:

    "are you all blind.. I am diverse but I think this is in poor taste. This Mosque can be built anywhere... but why on the grave of the victims of a radical Muslim attack. This is in bad taste. Please wake up and smell the insult... or are insults only for the ethnic groups... We are American, Christians and we do not need a mosque on the grave of our friends and family."

  • Ken wrote:

    "I am an American Soldier. I am presently in Iraq fighting for freedom. Upon reading this, let me just say that, from my perspective, anyone who opposes this building is affronting the democracy for which I am fighting. There is, and was, a process for approving this. It is a representational democracy. If you disagree with it, there is an appeals process. THIS is how AMERICANS handle things. Hatred is useless. It furthers none of us as a nation, or as a common people. My only fear is that this project might be seen as a victory by those who still believe that the attacks of 9/11 were justifiable, but the people charged with considering those facts have already made their decision."

  • Gustavo Gutierrez wrote:

    "NO! This Muslim congregation has been in lower Manhattan for over two decades. Should I tell a synagogue to relocate if they decided to build a house of worship in Dearborn, Michigan because of Israel's policies towards the Palestinians."

    "This is prejudice pure and simple."

    "Yes, I am a Muslim who had to face this type of prejudice in the US Navy and when I worked for the US Department of Homeland Security." 1

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2010-JUN-03: Our facebook posting:

By mid-2010, opposition was rising against the proposed community center, mainly by conservative social and religious conservatives. We placed the following comment on our Facebook icon page:

"A Muslim group has received permission to build a mosque -- not at ground zero, (the location of the 9/11 attack) as most websites and media seem to say, but two blocks away. Many feel that because the 19 terrorists who perpetrated 9/11 were Muslims, that all Muslims are equally responsible, and that mosques should be banned -- or at least banned in Manhattan anywhere near ground zero.

Others point out that there are 1.2 billion Muslims in the world and that it is irrational to blame all of them for the actions of 19 hate-filled Muslims who belong to a tiny radical, violent fundamentalist sect of Islam that has little or no respect for human lives. Building a mosque some blocks away shows Americans' respect for religious freedom -- something that many predominately Muslim countries need to adopt.

The principle being debated here is whether it is moral and ethical to blame a large group of innocent uninvolved persons for the evil deeds of a small number of radical, violent, fundamentalist persons within that group. This would be unethical according to the teachings of most religions, including most Christian faith groups. However, it is a principle that finds much support throughout the Bible.

Unfortunately, our comment was posted before all the facts surfaced. The building being debated would actually be a community center, not a mosque. It would be located two blocks away from the edge of the World Trade center property, some six blocks from ground zero. A more accurate estimate of the total population of Muslims in the world is 1.6 billion.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Carma Hassan, "New Yorkers Come Out to Level Proposed Ground Zero Mosque," Illume, 2010-MAY-27, at: http://www.illumemag.com/
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Copyright © 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2010-JUL-27
Latest update: 2010-AUG-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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