I really am getting annoyed at all this nonsense over the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. Apparently some Islamic organisations and interfaith groups wanted to develop a new “Islamic YMCA/JCC” near Lower Manhattan, which now has a sizable Muslim population. The community centre helps create a presence that would promote understanding and coexistence between Islam and the Western world.
According to their website, www.park51.org, the new complex will house:
* outstanding recreation spaces and fitness facilities (swimming pool, gym, basketball court)
* a 500-seat auditorium
* a restaurant and culinary school
* cultural amenities including exhibitions
* education programs
* a library, reading room and art studios
* childcare services
* a mosque, intended to be run separately from Park51 but open to and accessible to all members, visitors and our New York community
* a September 11th memorial and quiet contemplation space, open to all
Please note, of the proposed facilities, the prayer room or mosque is the one generating the most controversy. Also, we all need to be aware that the Park51 complex is primarily an Islamic community centre that is open to all with one part containing a facility for Islamic prayers. The Park51 complex (Cordoba House) is not a giant mosque as the American media claims. It really annoys me to no end when ignorant or overly emotional people keep whining and screaming about the so-called mosque when the damn building only has one section dedicated for prayer.
You know, the Bowery Mission has a soup kitchen, shelter and a chapel but no one calls them a church. On a related note, the Church of Scientology has a reading room, vistors’ centre and a prayer room and many people don’t consider them a church as well. Just to keep things simple, a complex where at least 3/4th of the building is used for non-religious and community use does not make the damn thing a house of worship. And if people keep referring to Park51 as the “Ground Zero Mosque” then Jenna Jameson is a pious virgin.
Another frightening result of this issue is the revival of Islamophobia that had died down and overshadowed by problems such as the recession and government deadlock. I really am troubled to see a supporter of interfaith dialogue and sectarian coexistence to suddenly get drunk and slash a random taxi driver because he is Muslim.
These random acts of violence only reaffirm to the roughly 1 billion Muslims around the world that America does not like them and are not open to them whether they are part of the relatively social and sane majority or among the scheming minority of terrorists. It really comes as no surprise that some Muslims are publicly denouncing the entire Park51 project as it is becoming a beacon to power Islamophobia and creating potential problems in their daily lives.
There are polls that are supposedly claiming that most of America is against the Islamic community centre and the idea of the mosque near Ground Zero. Yet, did anyone bother informing these people that there have been mosques near Ground Zero for decades? The Masjid Manhattan Mosque that doubles as a Muslim community centre – http://www.masjidmanhattan.com/ – is just 3-4 blocks away from Ground Zero; yet no one is up in arms about them.
From their website:
Masjid Manhattan, established in 1970, is a not-for-profit organization currently located in the heart of downtown Manhattan, near City Hall and the World Trade Center. Wa’al-hamdulillah, our Masjid, has become one of the most famous and most visited Masajid in New York City. Additionally, it has become “The Castle of Da’wah” for non-Muslims bringing many of them, through its Da’wah program, into Islam.
Since its opening, the Masjid has been offering various services to the Muslim community. Some of these services are:
* Five (5) Congregational Salahs (Jammah) every day, seven days a week. Hundreds of brothers and sisters gather here to worship Allah (SWT).
* Congregational Friday Sermons (Ju’mmah) where more than 1,000 brothers and sisters, who come from all over Manhattan and the Tri-state area, gather in unity to praise Allah (SWT).
* Daily Iftar and Taraweeah prayer during the month of Ramadan.
* Islamic education on: Tajweed Al-Quran, Tafseer Al-Quran, Hadith, Fiqh, Sirah and Arabic language.
* Hajh seminars and trip arrangements for Hajh.
* Da’wah program.
Apparently this real mosque is more hardcore than what the people at Park51 are proposing. Why aren’t opponents of the Park51 community centre out to take this mosque out? Some people claim that Ground Zero is a sacred site that should be free from things associated with 9/11 yet they do not care about the strip clubs, sex shoppes and existing mosques around the area. At the same time, they had all the time in the world to formally turn Ground Zero into a historical site to purge the surrounding blocks of these things but never bothered. Only did this kind of talk come up when Park51 was being framed as a mosque to insult America in the media.
The reality is the Lower Manhattan Community Board approved the proposed Park51 aka Cordoba House community centre when it submitted for approval. Where were the diehard protesters then? Why didn’t anyone bother to challenge or question the site when it was still under review? In any event, the site is approved regardless of what the public thinks now that they have an oversimplified understanding of the complex.
Also, some people say that the “terrorists win” if the Park51 complex is realised. I just want to say the terrorists won years ago when it was decided that new office buildings would be built on the WTC site instead of rebuilding updated Twin Towers to show how terrorism cannot shake America’s resolve. I can sadly say they did with the changes in Ground Zero, with the PATRIOT ACT, the invasion of Iraq and the latent Islamophobia in 21st century America. At the same time, the terrorists will score another victory if they are able to prove America is intolerant, selective with their human rights, and ignorant if they are able to kill the entire Park51 complex. This whole issue that has-been politicians and opportunists are using to fuel controversy is also being used to prove that the Islamic extremists are right about America.
This entire issue is also more than just the freedom of religion and property rights. It is also about protecting minority rights from the tyranny of the majority. If the majority is able to trample on minority rights over ignorance and fear of an Islamic complex, then what will keep them from applying similar attitudes towards homosexual rights, non-citizens, the poor, the wealthy, ethnic minorities and other minority groups?
Some more reading on the “Ground Zero Mosque”: