Mosque at Ground Zero: the tragedy of blanket accusations
The New York City community board endorsed the Cordoba House, a community center and mosque planned for construction near Ground Zero.
Significant opposition has emerged against the project. Sarah Palin even weighed in this weekend, tweeting, "Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing."
Should there be a mosque near Ground Zero?
The question as worded is itself problematic and, with apologies to the editors, helps to perpetuate the mischaracterization of the issue. The proposed building is not to be a mosque in the technical sense, but is to be a fifteen-story community center similar to other Muslim centers across the country. It would include a performing arts center and space for various recreational activities, as well as a place for prayer. Though the latter might justifiably be described as a mosque, to refer to the entire building as a mosque is to misuse the term. Moreover, the building will not be located at Ground Zero, but two blocks away. References to a Ground Zero mosque, therefore, do more to cloud the issue than to clarify.
The question, then, should be whether permission should be granted for Muslims to build a community center two blocks from Ground Zero. I imagine that the furor that has been aroused, however, would have been aroused even without the inclusion of the prayer area.
From a strictly legal standpoint, there is no problem with constructing the building. The lot on which it is to be built is not public property, but is privately property owned by a group called the Cordoba Initiative and is zoned to permit such a building. The name of the owners apparently is in memory of Cordoba, Spain, where Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived together in peace and prosperity in the eighth century.
Apart from the legality of the building, one of the disturbing things about public reaction is that opponents either are unaware or ignore that Muslims as well as non-Muslims were killed in the attack on the twin towers. Estimates as to how many Muslims were killed vary from 23 (the Pew Forum estimate) to 300 (an estimate by some Muslim websites). If the lower number is accurate, it means that the percentage of Muslims killed was slightly higher than the percentage of Muslims in the U.S. population. And though the sentiment of those who are affronted by a Muslim Center being built so close to Ground Zero is regrettably understandable, the only thing that most Muslims would hear in the refusal to allow that Center would be that all Muslims actually are blamed for 9/11. From a theological perspective, that would be parallel to the centuries long Christian accusation that all Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus. And Christians should think long and hard before committing that sinful folly.
Posted by: muslim1908 | July 24, 2010 12:08 PM
Report Offensive Comment
Posted by: cianwn | July 20, 2010 1:35 PM
Report Offensive Comment
The comments to this entry are closed.