Demonizing Islam, Alienating Muslims, Harming US
It's the Muslims whose sensitivities are being trampled on
By: Gulamhusein A. Abba
The Ground Zero Mosque controversy is drummed up by anti-Islam, anti-Muslim and anti-Obama religious fanatics and right wing politicians, each with their own agenda.
The anti-Islam and anti-Muslim forces want to indelibly link in the minds of Americans the 9/11 tragedy with Islam, in an effort to demonize Islam and Muslims. They are shamelessly exploiting the 9/11 tragedy for this purpose.
Two main reasons are cited for the opposition to the so called "Ground Zero Mosque". The most loudly proclaimed one is that the building of the "mosque" would desecrate hallowed Ground Zero, hurt the feelings of the families of the 9/11 victims and would be a slap in their face. The second objection voiced is the fear that the mosque could become one from which radical Islam is preached and where the seeds of terrorism are sown.
First, the question of location and sensitivity.
There is no reason whatsoever for the sensitivities of any of the families of the 9/11 tragedy victims, or of anyone else for that matter, to be ruffled by the founders of the Corduba Initiative going ahead with the Park51 Project (mischievously dubbed The Ground Zero Mosque}
Before approving or opposing the project, it is important to know what exactly the project is.
What is going to be built is not a mosque as such. There will be just a prayer hall in a part of a Cultural Center. This building will not be on Ground Zero but will be two blocks away and will not even be seen from Ground Zero. The Center will have a library, gym, auditorium, swimming pool, culinary school and restaurant.
Further, it will also include an auditorium to engage large audiences, sophisticated classroom spaces, general spaces and world-class facilities for all New Yorkers to benefit from.
It will also host events to facilitate "multifaith dialogue" and will have a September 11th memorial and quiet reflection space where people of different faith traditions and beliefs, sacred and secular, can find quiet time and solace.
Yes, it will include a prayer hall, a "mosque" to be used by Muslims to offer their prayers. This will take up only a small portion of the final space. Muslim prayer services have been held daily at 51 Park Place, the site of the proposed Center, since late 2009. The developers hope to expand services and facilities in the coming months to meet the needs of an expanding Muslim population. (There are probably one million Muslims in the tri-state area and several hundred thousand in New York City).
The project planners are going to build on property they have lawfully owned for several years.
What is in works is a complete renovation of an existing building that used to be Burlington Coat Factory and which was damaged by debris falling on it from the 9/11 attacks.
At a time of economic hardship, Park51 will constitute an investment of over $100 million of infrastructure in lower Manhattan, creating over 150 full-time jobs and over 500 part-time jobs, and providing much needed space, open to all, for community activities, health and wellness, arts and culture and personal and professional development.