By: Amelia Passer
Americans freaked-out at the idea of building a Mosque on Ground Zero, the site where the World Trade Center once stood. I was a bit apprehensive when I first heard about Park51, too, but after a bit of research, all the commotion seems a little out of proportion. For one thing, the site isn’t actually on Ground Zero. The location for the future mosque, due to open in September, is no less than two blocks away in the building occupied by a Burlington Coat Factory.
Additionally, the “mosque” is not even a “mosque.” It is in fact, an Islamic Community Center that will not primarily be used for worship. The facility will include a 500-seat auditorium, a movie theater, performing arts center, fitness center, swimming pool, basketball court, childcare area, bookstore, culinary school, art studio, food court, September 11 memorial, and prayer space to accommodate approximately 1,000–2,000 people.
Not only have the facts concerning the mosque been misrepresented, but the issue also should never have become a national debate to begin with. The conflict is a local problem that shouldn’t be involved with by the national jurisdiction. There are so many more important problems in the country that don’t get news coverage at all, while this issue shouldn’t have ever been questioned to begin with. The dispute is a direct violation of our First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of religion and the right to build facilities on privately owned property.
Religious freedom should not in anyway be limited to certain cultures or sects. Muslim minority in the U.S. shouldn’t be prosecuted for the acts that happened on 9/11 just because of the 0.01% of terrorist that are often associated with the culture.
If America keeps this attitude toward Muslims, it seems like. in a sense, the terrorists have won. The U.S. is still acting defensively, and in some cases, like the controversy with Park51, many Americans express excessive fear. Wouldn’t that be what the terrorist would’ve wanted, to have constant state of paranoia?
As a nation, we need to stand together and strive to move past this intolerance. Until we can eliminate the stereotypes we have towards others different from ourselves, we will never be able to progress as a country or more importantly be able to reach coexistence.
By: Anna Kate Baygents
September 11, 2001, is a day that Americans will never forget. Four U.S. planes were hijacked by Islamic suicide bombers. Two were flown into the Twin Towers, one into the Pentagon, and one meant for the White House landed in a Pennsylvania field. Over 3,000 innocent people were murdered that day, and thousands everywhere were affected either directly by losing a family member or friend, or by the shared pain felt by all Americans. Consider the family members of these victims. They shouldn’t be reminded of this tragedy daily by having an Islamic mosque built so close to that sacred ground.
According to the U.S. Constitution, building this on privately owned property is perfectly legal. That, however, doesn’t make it acceptable; in fact, I find this one of the most distasteful things one could do. The Cordoba House isn’t just a modest little mosque, but a $100 million cultural and community center only 560 feet away from Ground Zero. The first thing I asked myself was, “Why this location? Out of every available lot in New York, why this one?” I’ve heard it compared to building a German cultural center at Auschwitz. Considering this would create quite a controversy, a worldwide issue would result. A comparable building of the mosque in America, however, is made into a hushed issue.
Time magazine recently reported that 71% of Americans oppose the mosque. The Imam, Fiesal Abdul Rauf, said that he wanted this mosque there to “promote religious tolerance.” The negative perception of peaceful Muslims will never go away if the wishes of the majority of Americans isn’t honored.
Imam Fielsal Abdul Rauf may seem like your friendly neighbor next door, but he’s not. On September 30, 2001, he told CBS Nightly News, “I wouldn’t say the U.S. deserved what happened, but U.S. policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.” Now, I’m not some crazy conservative that just screams terrorist and demands his deportation, but no one with America’s best interest in mind would say that a mere 19 days after 9/11. He’s also a member of the Perdana Global Peace Organization. This organization sent $366,000 to the Free Gaza movement this past May. The Free Gaza movement was when Arabs went to forcefully take back Gaza from the Israelis. It quickly turned violent and killed many innocent Israelis. No one wants this supposedly “peaceful” person building in their neighborhood.
With the ninth anniversary of the September 11 tragedy just a week away, respect and sympathy for victims’ families should be at an all time high. It’s not a matter of religious freedom or property rights, but a matter of appropriateness.