Big debates abound regarding the building of a mosque some 3-4 blocks away from the northern most boundary of the Ground Zero site.
There are some who are protesting the very concept of building a mosque close to Ground Zero. A friend of mine sent an interesting article (here) some of whose premise he seemed to support.
Mayor Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, supports the concept.
One wonders how close would still be too close? If it were 50 blocks away would this still be an issue? My bet is “probably.”
I’m sure there are plenty who would even argue against a new mosque in Washington Heights as “too close.” As someone who works a block away from 7 WTC and the proposed site location and who Iives nearby, I can’t say that I’m opposed to the building of the mosque.
Politics have welded Islam and terrorism together in the hearts and minds of many in this country. But the events of 9/11 had an effect on the entire world regardless of one’s religion or cultural background.
Allowing the association of religion to extremist acts such as terrorism and military strikes is a double edged sword that hurts both parties.
Rejecting a community’s objective to reclaim their identity near the venue that most influences the world’s perception of said community could mean that the extremist view of that mis-represented community prevails.
The question of danger is moot. Everyone knows that the FBI, NSA, CIA, and IRS will have their bugs and moles all over the place.
What I find more sickening are the vultures who sell photo albums with pictures of the events of that day and the tourists who ogle and buy them. Much worse are the politicians who use 9/11 to tug at heartstrings or inspire fear against the “other.” Or the racists who use the event to further excacerbate their ignorance.
New York is a city of difference, if we continue to push communities away because of their difference and use the Rudy Giuliani approach to diplomacy, New York’s greatest merit will cease to be.
We CAN get past 9/11. That’s not to say we should ever forget it. But there’s a difference between everyone knowing you have a scar and showing everyone you have a scar all the time, every day. More dialogue is better than less any day of the week. Blocking the Mosque is like stifling the dialogue.
If the Muslims in the mosque truly show the best side of their community through their work in the mosque/community center, that could do wonders for the world’s perception of Islam, and perhaps contribute towards a better overall mutual understanding.
Following the logic of blocking the mosque’s creation would be the same as preventing the many Muslim vendors who sell I Love NY t-shirts in the shadow of WTC from performing their daily prayer rituals. It would also mean that the President of the United States and any other elected officials should resist asking God to bless our soldiers before they head to battle.