Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Building a Mosque Near Ground Zero

This topic has gotten quite a lot of press lately, and it seems that both camps seem to think that you are in one group or another. No gray areas allowed, of course.

Those who ardently support the mosque being built see it as a matter of freedom of religion / equality for all, and those that oppose them as being short-sighted racists.

Those who vehemently oppose the mosque being built see it as a matter of being a patriot, or not.

I don't think it's either. Or maybe it's both. Or maybe it's a little more gray than any of it.

Those who oppose the mosque being built, well, I think for one reason or another the emotions of 9/11 are still a little too raw to allow anything besides a memorial to go on what is seen as sacred ground. And the fact that the terrorists who committed such an act were Muslim, for them, adds insult to injury. They feel that to build a Islamic place of worship so close to where such an atrocity was committed by men who professed Islamic beliefs to be an insult, a slap in the face, rubbing salt in wounds that are still too fresh.
And sometimes it's not that the wounds are still to fresh for themselves, but that these opposers are so incredibly sympathetic to the survivors and their families, to the loved ones of victims lost, that they feel that to support the mosque would be tantemount to betraying those who still hurt.

And their feelings are more than valid.

Those who support the mosque being built near Ground Zero, tend to hold fast to the belief that our country should still be a place for freedom of religion, a place for equality for all, no matter what the religion, no matter what extremist zealots have claimed in the name of their god. They pride themselves in at least trying to promote equality for all, even if they aren't always successful.

And they are right and honorable in their beliefs and efforts.

Where do I stand? In the gray.

I absolutely support the right of any religious group to build a place of worship whereever they see fit. I see no reason for the city to prohibit the building of this mosque. In fact, I believe it would be wrong for it to be prohibited.
This does not mean that I am not sympathetic to those who oppose it. I am. I feel for them. I feel for the pain that they still feel. A part of me still hurts too. I'm not sure there's an American alive who lived thru that day, no matter where they were, who doesn't still feel at least a twinge of pain at the mention of 9/11. I understand where they are coming from.

But just because I understand, and am sympathetic, doesn't mean I agree.

From personal experience I know that the majority of Muslims are loving, peaceful people. Really no different from you or I.

And from my background in history, I know that a few Christian groups in the past (and present) have also been known to commit great atrocities in the name of our God. But I also know that the actions of a few do not represent the whole. Not even close.

Now... back to the mosque-building issue. Even though I support the building of a mosque near Ground Zero (or anywhere, really), what I do not support is that any place of worship be built in that area before St. Nicholas Church is rebuilt.

For those of you who do not know, St. Nicholas Church was destroyed on 9/11. It sat in the shadows of the World Trade Center, and was demolished under the weight of the collapsing buldings.

Efforts to rebuild St. Nicholas in that area have been delayed and blocked by red tape for the past nine years.
Yet somehow requests to build a mosque have been approved in significantly less time.

This. Bothers. Me.

And I wonder what the political motivations are behind it.

It. Really. Bothers. Me.

So, my opinion? Rebuild St. Nicholas first. Then, and only then, should other requests to build another place of worship in the area be considered. But not before.

1 comment:

Jene said...

Just a side note, but the new building in question isn't actually a mosque, just a Muslim community center that has a place of worship within it. Same as the Jewish community centers that are so common in the same city.

On the St. Nicholas issue, I don't think one necessarily has to do with the other. The proposed site for the St. Nicholas church is actually land that is owned by the government, and there is a land trade deal that needs to be worked out before construction can begin. I'm sure you can imagine how difficult it is to get anything accomplished, especially given the troubles you've had with your own real estate endeavors. It isn't as cut and dry as it sounds. The groups working to build the Muslim center already own the land they want to build on.

I can see both sides of the issue, but as a former Jersey resident whose family was also deeply impacted by 9/11, I still say to let it go. We forget that around 10% of the victims were Muslim Americans. We shouldn't let the actions of a few dictate the way we treat the rest.

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