Cordoba House, also referred to as the “Ground Zero Mosque” and “Park51”, is a planned $100 million, 13-story, glass and steel Islamic cultural center and mosque. The plan is to raze an existing 1850s Italianate building that was damaged in the September 11 attacks, and build the mosque in its place. It is to be built two blocks (less than 600 feet, or 180 meters) from Ground Zero in New York City. An anticipated 1,000 to 2,000 Muslims will pray at it every Friday, once it is built. The proposed location of the mosque triggered an intense national controversy. Polls showed that a majority of Americans, as well as most New Yorkers, opposed the mosque being built on that site. Many were upset by the prospect of an Islamic center being built so close to Ground Zero, where Islamist terrorists had killed nearly 3,000 people in the name of Islam. Across the United States, families of 9/11 victims, as well as politicians, Muslims, and organizations, came out both for and against the mosque being built in the Ground Zero vicinity. Some relatives of 9/11 victims argued that the project’s choice of location was insensitive, while others said that the project would be an opportunity for Muslims to demonstrate that there are moderates among them. Some politicians, such as Rick Lazio, questioned the project’s source of funding, as well as the project leader’s views on 9/11 and terrorism. Others, such as New York City Mayor Bloomberg, welcomed the mosque as an expression of freedom of religion. Prominent Muslims split over whether the project was an act of friendship, or an unnecessary and ostentatious provocation. Newt Gingrich and others assailed the name of the project. It harked back to 8th century Córdoba, Spain, the Islamic seat of power after Muslim conquerors defeated Western Christians and occupied and ruled Spain, though the project sponsors said it was meant to point to where Muslims, Christians, and Jews co-existed peacefully. With the name proving to be inflammatory, its investors subsequently renamed the project “Park51”.
As the satellite image in this article shows, the “ground zero mosque” is not actually on the world trade center ruins, as might be guessed at by the name “Ground zero mosque”, but instead a good two blocks north on a smaller street that actually has no direct site to the ground zero ruins. Many scholars have pointed this out. Sharif el-Gamal, the site’s lead developer, emphasized “we are not at Ground Zero.” Georgetown academic John Esposito informed CNN’s readers that it “is not at Ground Zero but two blocks away.” Huffington Post editor Matt Sledge devoted a rather long essay, complete with maps, to explaining that “it’s not at Ground Zero.” Pundit Matthew Yglesias has asked where the New York City “Mosque Exclusion Zone” should be. All of this dampens the idea that this is actually a “ground zero mosque”, or a mosque intended to be plopped down in the middle of the ruins site to enshrine the massacre of 3,000 people.
“A primary talking point in defense of the “Ground Zero mosque” these days is that it is not, in fact, at Ground Zero. Sharif el-Gamal, its lead developer, is now giving interviews in which he emphasizes, “We are not at Ground Zero.” Saudi-funded Georgetown academic John Esposito informed CNN’s readers that it “is not at Ground Zero but two blocks away.” […] To begin with, you have to wonder where some of these people were on September 11, 2001. The entire area east of Broadway, south of Chambers street and north of Wall Street was a front-row seat to mass murder that morning, and much of that area was showered with pulverized debris (mixed among it the bodies of the dead). Few of the national parks and monuments commemorating America’s historic battlefields are so narrowly drawn as the defenders of the mosque would now define “Ground Zero.” Nobody who stood within that area that day would say that 51 Park Place is not within the location of the September 11 attacks.”
Building the Islamic mosque is comparable to putting a pro Nazi building in the middle of Israel or building a nuclear plant in the middle of Nagasaki or Hiroshima. All three have terrible taste and why is that? Because of the slaughter at the world trade center, the 6 million Jews killed in camps and the 58,000 killed in one day at Nagasaki. Just because they didn´t take part in the attack doesn´t mean the symbol isn´t still hurting the public. So indirectly you are hurting the victims of each one of the attacks even if you didn´t take part believe in taking part. The symbol alone can cause an unjust amount of pain.
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said in August of 2010 at the height of the ground zero mosque debate: “The simple fact is, this building is private property, and the owners have a right to use the building as a house of worship, and the government has no right whatsoever to deny that right. And if it were tried, the courts would almost certainly strike it down as a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question: Should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here.”
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said in August of 2010 at the height of the ground zero mosque debate: “This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions or favor one over another. The World Trade Center site will forever hold a special place in our city, in our hearts. But we would be untrue to the best part of ourselves and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans if we said no to a mosque in lower Manhattan. […] I believe that this is an important test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetimes, as important a test. And it is critically important that we get it right.”
It is irrelevant whether or not the ground zero mosque is considered tasteless. Mini-skirts and tie-die shirts are too. But, nevertheless, it still must be tolerated, and the right of Muslims to build the mosque must be protected.
If it is established that the ground zero mosque does more harm to the victims of 9/11, subjecting them to further feelings of resentment etc, then it is possible to ban it or force moving it to another location on the basis of protecting other citizens.
If it is determined that the ground zero mosque is seen as a rallying symbol for terrorists, then it may pose a threat, which could give cause to moving it.
The Anti-Defamation League: “Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.”
“If we have talked ourselves into a belief that American liberties demand social toleration, or worse, approval of an Islamic site explicitly branded with ‘Ground Zero,’ a mosque clothing itself in the respect accorded to the victims of that atrocity, then we must sincerely question whether our national life and purpose is damaged beyond repair.” Instead, RedState argues that the mosque should be opposed and condemned vigorously by its opponents in an effort to shame the developers into picking another, less sensitive site
Pope John Paul II overrode plans to build a Church near Auschwitz out of a desire to avoid offending the Jews there that had suffered during WWII.
“what about the feelings, and for that matter the rights, of America’s Muslims—some of whom also perished in the atrocity?”
“Abraham Foxman, the head of the ADL, explained that we must all respect the feelings of the 9/11 families, even if they are prejudiced feelings. ‘Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted,’ he said. First, the 9/11 families have mixed views on this mosque. There were, after all, dozens of Muslims killed at the World Trade Center. Do their feelings count?”
Abraham Foxman, the head of the ADL, explained that the anguish of the 9/11 victims “entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted.” Fareed Zakaria responded by saying. “does Foxman believe that bigotry is OK if people think they’re victims? Does the anguish of Palestinians, then, entitle them to be anti-Semitic?”
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said in August of 2010 at the height of the ground zero mosque debate: “On Sept. 11, 2001, thousands of first responders heroically rushed to the scene and saved tens of thousands of lives. More than 400 of those first responders did not make it out alive. In rushing into those burning buildings, not one of them asked, ‘What God do you pray to?’ (Bloomberg’s voice cracks here a little as he gets choked up.) ‘What beliefs do you hold? […] The attack was an act of war, and our first responders defended not only our city, but our country and our constitution. We do not honor their lives by denying the very constitutional rights they died protecting. We honor their lives by defending those rights and the freedoms that the terrorists attacked.
One group, 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America, calls Cordoba House “a gross insult to the memory of those who were killed on that terrible day.
“To us, after much discussion and debate it became clear that the overriding concern should be the sensitivities of the families of the victims that dictated finding another location for this massive, $100 million project. […] At its essence, our position is about sensitivity. Everyone — victims, opponents and proponents alike — must pay attention to the sensitivities involved without giving in to appeals to, or accusations of, bigotry. Ultimately, this was not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center would unnecessarily cause some victims more pain. And that wasn’t right.”
“Planting a mosque just two blocks from where Muslims murdered Americans on 9/11 in the name of Islam is a huge slap in the face. Why shouldn’t Muslims be sensitive enough to realize that a huge mosque planted right near the horrific wound to the U.S. created at Ground Zero by Muslims is outrageous to us? They claim a right to be insulted by cartoons mocking their prophet, even to the point of beheading people.”
Stephen Suleyman Schwartz, a devout Muslim and director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism in Washington. Schwartz noted that the spiritual leader of the Cordoba Initiative, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, describes himself as a Sufi — a Muslim focused on Islamic mysticism and spiritual wisdom. But “building a 15-story Islamic center at ground zero isn’t something a Sufi would do,’’ according to Schwartz, also a practitioner of Sufism. “Sufism is supposed to be based on sensitivity toward others,” yet Cordoba House comes across as “grossly insensitive.
“True, some relatives of 9/11 victims are hurt by the idea of a mosque going up near the site. But that feeling of hurt makes sense only if they too buy the false idea that Muslims in general were perpetrators of the crime.”
“The mosque is already just a few blocks away, in Tribeca, but has overgrown its current space. Rauf says that he hopes that having a moderate mosque so near ground zero can send a message of tolerance and peace.” The point here is that this was not a mosque out of nowhere, but rather a mosque that already existed blocks away, and which is merely being moved to a new location, a couple of blocks closed to ground zero, where a new building can fit the growing demand for the mosque.
“Those attacks, as you well know, were committed in the name of Islam. We applaud and thank every Muslim throughout the world who has rejected and denounced this association. But the fact remains that in the minds of many who are swayed by the most radical interpretations of Islam, the Cordoba House will not be seen as a center for peace and reconciliation. It will rather be celebrated as a Muslim monument erected on the site of a great Muslim ‘military’ victory — a milestone on the path to the further spread of Islam throughout the world.”
Islam has built mosques on conquered territory before. Cordoba’s mosque in Spain is a good example, where the Moores built a mosque as a sign of victories in Spain in the 11th and 12th centuries. The ground zero mosque is no different.
“In a tweet last month from Alaska, Ms Palin called on “peaceful Muslims” to “refudiate” the “ground-zero mosque” because it would “stab” American hearts. But why should it? Cordoba House is not being built by al-Qaeda. To the contrary, it is the brainchild of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a well-meaning American cleric who has spent years trying to promote interfaith understanding, not an apostle of religious war like Osama bin Laden. He is modelling his project on New York’s 92nd Street Y, a Jewish community centre that reaches out to other religions. The site was selected in part precisely so that it might heal some of the wounds opened by the felling of the twin towers and all that followed.”
State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said: “We have a long-term relationship with [Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf]. His work on tolerance and religious diversity is well-known and he brings a moderate perspective to foreign audiences on what it’s like to be a practicing Muslim in the United States.”
“Mr Gingrich also objects to the centre’s name. Imam Feisal says he chose “Cordoba” in recollection of a time when the rest of Europe had sunk into the Dark Ages but Muslims, Jews and Christians created an oasis of art, culture and science. Mr Gingrich sees only a “deliberate insult”, a reminder of a period when Muslim conquerors ruled Spain. Like Mr bin Laden, Mr Gingrich is apparently still relitigating the victories and defeats of religious wars fought in Europe and the Middle East centuries ago. He should rejoin the modern world, before he does real harm.”
Only the top floor of the mosque will be a prayer space. Most of Park51 will act as a Muslim community center, with a pool and exercise areas and spaces for other community-related activities that have very little to do with prayer. This just dampens the idea that this is somehow a hard core, or even radical, religious institution. It simply is not.
“Building this structure on the edge of the battlefield created by radical Islamists is not a celebration of religious pluralism and mutual tolerance; it is a political statement of shocking arrogance and hypocrisy.”
Victims’ families view the imam’s expressed plan to “leverage” the mosque’s proximity to Ground Zero to engage in proselytizing and to “grow the Muslim community,” as shockingly insensitive to the history of the site where their loved ones were slaughtered in the worst terrorist attack by extremist Muslims in America’s history; following the attack, 20,000 body parts were recovered in a nine-month operation to remove 1.8 million tons of rubble from Lower Manhattan.”
Sarah Palin: “Just days after 9/11, the spiritual leader of the organization that wants to build the mosque, Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, suggested that blame be placed on the innocents when he stated that the “United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened” and that “in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.” Rauf refuses to recognize that Hamas is a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of our ally, Israel, and refuses to provide information about the sources of funding for the $100 million mosque. Rauf also plays a key role in a group behind the flotilla designed to provoke Israel in its justifiable blockade of Gaza. These are just a few of the points Americans are realizing as New York considers the proposed mosque just a stone’s throw away from 9/11’s sacred ground.”
“The true intentions of Rauf are also revealed by the name initially proposed for the Ground Zero mosque—“Cordoba House”—which is named for a city in Spain where a conquering Muslim army replaced a church with a mosque. This name is a very direct historical indication that the Ground Zero mosque is all about conquest and thus an assertion of Islamist triumphalism which we should not tolerate.”
oe Liebarman. “If the people building this large Islamic center are just looking to build a large facility — a house of worship and center — in New York, why so close to 9/11, with all the sensitivity associated with that?”