About That Controversy Over Building A Mosque At Ground Zero



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Jon Stewart and the Daily Show, simply put, have a wicked way of putting certain issues in context while still maintaining a sense of humor. For anyone following US news these past few weeks, you’ve probably noticed the growing summer controversy over plans to build a mosque at ground zero in New York. It has taken talking heads, articles, news clips and just about anything American media has to offer (even the absurd variety), straight in to the depths of what is perhaps the silliest issue one can imagine. This is to say nothing of the fact that it has only served to highlight the extent to which many Americans are xenophobic when it comes to Muslims, with perhaps little understanding of the religion, its followers, or, at the very least, the difference between the overwhelming majority of Muslims and the twisted ideologies of extremist groups like Al-Queda.

From one Muslim’s point of view, if a nation is for freedom of religion, then it’s for freedom of religion. Being selective as to which religions can practice and evolve freely is hypocritical. As for the actual building of the Cordoba Center (as it is not a mosque), if the idea is to send some sort of symbolic message, then that message needs to be clearly articulated, declared and framed within the context of the initiative – rather than being left open to interpretation. If there is no symbolism and the goal is to just piss people off, this may not be worth the fight at all.

What do you think?

12 thoughts on “About That Controversy Over Building A Mosque At Ground Zero

  1. As a Muslim, when I heard the headlines – not being from America and not knowing the information – I had thought it wasn’t worth it at all. Although I believe in freedom of religion, I had thought it was unfair for the majority of Americans who aren’t Muslims and I wondered how Muslims would feel if Christian Terrorists had destroyed the most important buildings in a majority muslim country and subsequently built a giant church over the same ground. However, when I read that it was already being used for prayers and that there was a mosque in the same place before 9/11 and it was simply rebuilding with additional multi-faith facilities then I regretted my thoughts. I think it’s a good thing if it truly will benefit the whole community including non muslims (at such a size, 13 stories) and if it sends across a positive message.

  2. Hmmm. Seems to me I recall that this was the International Trade Center and there were people killed from many countries including the Muslim ones. In a list of those who died there are several including this one among several similar: Mohammad Salahuddin Chowdhury. So why not an Islamic Community Center? And apparently it’s not a mosque but then a lot of Americans like things in sound bites, even if grossly misleading.

    I’ve been to Jordan 3 times now and want to come again. I’d love to bring a lot of Americans over there to see what a Muslim country really is like, that it’s as safe as here, and that Jordanians and Palestinians are more like us than different.

  3. Nas you can’t put a rational spin on this story because you are ignoring the impetus for this controversy
    – Is it election year – CHECK
    – Are economic conditions atrocious – CHECK
    – Are people pissed off because of the economy – CHECK

    It’s not only the muslims that are getting the heat of it, every foreigner in the states is getting it and it makes no rational sense at all, its just very natural for people to become more and more xenophobic as economic conditions worsen … wait that sounds a lot like the discussion that we were having last week… i guess things are that different over here either.

  4. Being on the ground in the heart of America fly-over land, I have had an earful about this, lots of shrill people talking over each other and missing two huge points: freedom of faith is for everyone in America, not just your fav. All this legal posturing is stupid.

    Yet, planning an Islamic center there for greater interfaith understanding and a 911memorial, and not anticipating the raw sensitivities of Americans, is equally stupid. I remember how a Jordanian elected official created a huge statue to honor HM King Hussein at 4th Circle, and HM’s reaction. Not all gifts given in good faith are received well. Hope to have a post soon with snippets of quotes.

    Xenophobia is a bani Adam trait.

  5. I think this thing went out of proportion and it has to do because politicians were involved.
    Muslim Americans spend million of dollars in building mosques for many reasons: 1) they want to prove to Americans that they are here to stay. 2) they are a hard working contributing community 3) teach their American born children the importance of Islam in their life. 4) show their devotion to their religion.

    I wrote about the Cordoba House and why I think it is not a good idea to build it :
    http://jaraad.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/the-fall-of-cordoba-house/

  6. Americans are becoming more and more like Arabs, they have allowed one tragedy to make them very emotional and less reasonable. Their country stands for freedom, including freedom of religion. The fact is that of that building (which is not entirely a mosque) was built without any media coverage, very few Americans would have been offended.

    There is a mosque in the Pentagon for that matter….

    Yes I am upset that Saudi Arabia consider doesn’t allow churches to be built in Mecca…etc but Americans who keep taking this as an example are starting to equate freedoms in America to those in Saudi Arabia…. not a good move at all

  7. im tired of the comparison of US to Saudi arabia.

    the US constitution is about freedoms, like all other arab countries, most arab countries have freedom of religion by law.
    Saudi Arabia dosnt have churches for the same reason the vatican state doesnt have mosques.

  8. The Americans are facing a real issue here. An issue that questions their fundamental values to which they subscribe to unconditionally and which they believe are the ultimate answer to injustice and inequality. Democracy is not perfect. Attempting to make everyone equal is proving much harder than people thought. Freedom of expression and freedom of religion are at the core of democracy, yet Americans are finding it really hard to balance between what they call moral and what they truly feel about Islam and the Arabs.

    Arabs are the new niggers. We are the lowest of the low in the eyes of the world at this point, unfortunately. The fight for “good” during the cold war was not the end of history. Democracy and freedom’s triumph over communism was not a win for good over evil, it was a process of evolution of ideologies. Democracy is 20th century stuff, there is no room for everyone on board the ship of democracy now. Theoretically yes, but in practice, the West is finding it really hard to balance between their ‘values’ and their feelings. I think that is what John is getting at.

  9. Before we pillory America (a pastime I also enjoy, I admit!), I’d like to bring your attention to this article from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/us/08mosque.html?_r=2&hp
    After you get past the list of anti-mosque protests that John Stewart mentioned, you’ll find this:

    “But they have not gone unanswered. In each community, interfaith groups led by Protestant ministers, Catholic priests, rabbis and clergy members of other faiths have defended the mosques. Often, they have been slower to organize than the mosque opponents, but their numbers have usually been larger.”

    It’s sad to note that the radically conservative voices of Fox and the Teaparty are the loudest and most persistent, but no matter how vocal they are, they are still the minority. The reason conservatives have to shout so loudly in America is because most Americans have come to realize that Islam and the Arab and Muslim worlds really pose a far smaller threat than Islam’s vocal minority (i.e. al-Qaeda) would like us to think.

  10. I believe that they should be able to build it since they all have freedom of religion, since no one would have opposed a church/synagogue being built there I don’t think it should be legal to ban it.

    Having said that, if indeed tolerance/ breaking down barriers etc.. is what the founders are after, then the obvious thing to do is to relocate it out of respect, their insistence on building it there makes me question their motives.

    thats why I thought plans for building a gay bar/club next to the mosque were genius, all reasons for building the mosque could be applied for building the bar, any protest from the Muslim founders would sound very hypocritical
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/10/greg-gutfeld-im-opening-g_n_676699.html

    Anyone up for some Jinn and juice at Al Gayda? 😀 sounds so fun!

  11. RocketRay,
    Of course a place for worship is a must and that is what I meant by item #4.
    4) show their devotion to their religion.
    Thanks for the annotation!

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