The Mosque at Ground Zero

August 16, 2010

Though I know that this issue is very controversial, it's also something that I think is important to face. The proposed community center (which would include a mosque), blocks away from where the World Trade Center stood, has become a flashpoint of debate around the nation. The president has been criticized by many for saying, "As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and community center on private property in Lower Manhattan in accordance with local laws and ordinances."

As a citizen, I, too, agree that they have every right to practice their religion freely--whether or not it is blocks from Ground Zero. After all, the first amendment in the United States Constitution's Bill of Rights includes the line: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Why should we treat a mosque any differently from a syngagogue, church, or temple? If we simply decide to treat certain religions in a standard way, but not others, we slide into the hypocrisy--and unjustness--that characterizes dictatorships, not democracies.

What's more, the general outrage over the proposed center is only fueling the fire of anti-Americanism abroad. The most effective way to fight terrorism is to show openness and goodwill, not hate or discrimination, toward Muslims both here at home and in foreign countries. When we treat the Islamic population of New York City in a discriminatory way, it only confirms anti-American suspicions in other countries. By antagonizing a moderate group of Muslims, whose only goal is to bring awareness of other cultures to a community center (in the hopes of fighting extremism), we are ultimately helping the terrorists, and their message that America hates Islam.
 
However, the ultimate point of controversy that has shaped the debate is the fact that it is an Islamic place of worship near the place where Islamic extremists killed thousands of people. I have read arguments from the families of those who were killed on 9/11, and I understand that it touches a place that is still raw in the hearts of many. But truly, the terrorists who crashed the planes into the Twin Towers were hardly more Muslim than they were any other religion. They killed Muslims, Christians, Jews, men, women, children--and the murder of innocents is condemned by every religion I know of. Their league of extremism is nowhere near the moderation we have seen from the Muslim group that plans on building the center. When we say that there should not be a mosque near Ground Zero, we imply that all Muslims are responsible, and we condemn their religion. The sign of one woman protesting the planned center read: "Islam builds mosques at the sites of their conquests and victories." I would easily understand outrage over a proposed Al-Qaeda headquarters at Ground Zero. They were the ones who were responsible. Moderate Muslims were not.
 
The community center and mosque planned near Ground Zero would help raise cultural awareness and provide a swimming pool, theater, and performing arts center that no doubt all New Yorkers--not just Muslims--could benefit from. It would show that the religious tolerance we put forth in our Constitution is proved by action, not just a sentence of empty words. It would take away fuel for extremist fire and show Muslims around the world that America does not hate Islam. And yet, 68% of Americans believe that allowing the Cordoba House (the proposed community center's name) to go on, is the wrong thing to do. Does this sway my opinion? No. Remember what Albert Einstein said: "What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right."
 
Denying the Cordoba House, and the moderate Muslim group planning to build it the right to do so, is popular.
 
Is it right?

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13 comments

  1. I agree wholeheartedly. Those against the mosque are failing to see the point.

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  2. I agree. It's fortunate that a person at such a young age has put this in such a mature way.

    It only further highlights the immaturity and irrationality of those opposed to the mosque.

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  3. Well I agree with you and Lee.

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  4. If Muslims really wanted to show that they were tolerant, they wouldn't build near the center of a place associated with such negative connotations. It is similar to the reason the pope closed down a convent located near Auschwitz; the nuns had pure motives, but we must learn to respect the silence of the dead.

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  5. Anonymous7:10 AM

    This is why I look up to Adora. Not only is she smart and talented, she gives full respect to all religions of any kind. She always gives a mature view on issues like this and is always against people with negative mindsets. I fully agree with her.

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  6. You have communicated this so well. Your youth does not show in your writing. In fact, you prove that youth has nothing to do with intelligence, common sense and insight. I believe that they have every right to go forward with the project to build the community center. I spoke out against a person on facebook saying that the mosque should not be there. They knew no facts and were basing their judgements upon the "fact that the families affected by 9/11 do not want the mosque there". I told them that it's a community center, that it's two blocks away and not "on" the site, and that it is not the same group of Muslim people in the first place. I was then told to "go live in a cave and wear a towel." OH my goodness. I was just DONE after that, and removed them from my Facebook friends list as well as reported their comment as inappropriate. Can you believe this person was a mother of 2 - much older than you and I. And so sadly ignorant. Thank you for being so inspirational!! xo

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  7. thanks for that. there needs to be healing from both groups.

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  8. thanks for that. there needs to be healing from both groups.

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  9. thanks for that. there needs to be healing from both groups.

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  10. Hey. Way to tackle the issue head on! I think it's cool you're even willing to do this kind of thing. Just read your interview in "What it Takes to Make More Money than Your Parents." Nice job! I'm trying to become a published author too. I just submitted my book proposal last week to a publisher and an agent. Now I'm just praying and waiting. Any ideas of what I should do next?

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  11. Anonymous10:49 AM

    I agree in part. Fundamentally you are spot on. But. It would also show a lot of respect by the muslims if they would decide not to push for a mosque in this place of all places. And the cleric pushing for this particular one is not known for his open minded preaching. Most people opposing the mosque are not against mosques in general, but only the location.

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  12. Anonymous6:05 PM

    I am an atheist and see this as just the same old story of why all religions, wether they be meak and mild or full of self-righteous bravado are all poison. Call it moderate Islam or fanatical Christianity the goal is always the same...were right, their wrong. Religion was born of our species infancy; an attempt to find reasons for events beyond our understanding or assign blame for misfortune. The net result of all this will be a modern holy war, what kind of nonsense is that...count me out.

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  13. Ray Anon7:33 PM

    I read about a poll in which the majority opposed the Mosque, while the majority also affirmed that they had the right to build the Mosque. That impressed me very much. The US citizens in that poll distinguished between the legal issue and the moral issue. We should do the same. Opposing something is not the same as wanting to prohibit it.

    Regarding "real" Muslims, this stirs up a very fundamental question: What characterizes a Christian, Jew, Muslim? The classification into "nice believers" and "evil lunatics" is tempting, but fallacious. To be precise, it would be the fallacy of the "No true Scotsman": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman .

    Similarly we must define "Islam" first before expressing our tolerance or appreciation towards it. There are many ideologies on this planet in which hatred and violence is not a reaction to unjustified rejection, but instead an integral part of a belief that preaches superiority for a special group of people. A strategy of appeasement towards such ideologies would not only be inefficient, but outright dangerous.


    Practically every time it comes to debates about religious and often political conflicts, they revolve around labels instead of contents, emotions instead of facts. This is so common that one might think that these were the actual debates. But they are not.

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