Is It Morally Right To Build The Mosque At Ground Zero?
The proposed construction of a mosque near the site we all revere as “Ground Zero” in Manhattan has been a point of controversy in recent years. The issue came to national attention in 2010. Proposed by a group referred to as the Cordoba Initiative, the project has been described to be more of a community center that just happens to contain a Mosque. At least this is the idea coined by Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf, a founding member of the Cordoba Initiative, which he has conveyed the hope of serving as a bridge of understanding between the Western world and Muslims (Jackson, J.).
After the news of the planned Mosque, where one to two thousand Muslims were expected to worship each Friday, hit the news wires in the Spring of 2010, mixed emotions ran rampant not only in New York, but throughout the entire nation. Both Muslim and non-Muslim citizens expressed concern from both angles. (Vitello, P.)
While some did not want to cause even more tension over already strained religious relations, other thought it would be the perfect opportunity to reach out to build better understanding amongst US citizens. According to Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement and Cordoba Initiative board member, “Whatever concerns anybody has, we have to make sure to educate them that we are an asset to the community,” (Jackson, J.)
The opposition from some citizens was not reflected by those in locally elected positions, however. Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City, was quoted as saying, “The government should never, never be in the business of telling people how they should pray or where they can pray…We want to make sure that everybody from around the world feels comfortable coming here, living here and praying the way they want to pray.” (Fox News)
And so the proposed Park51 project was approved. It was to house a swimming pool, basketball court, auditorium, library, day-care facility, restaurant and cooking school in addition to the Mosque that has caused such vehement protest. Even those who had met with opposition to construction of Mosques in the Midwest during the Iranian Hostage Scandal in the early ’80’s have expressed their dismay in the location of Park51, calling it “…a worst form of misjudgment..” due to its proximity to the site where religious radicals declared war on all of the United States. (Jacoby, J.)
While some referred to this grandiose project as a Mega-Mosque, just one year after its opening in 2011, there were no extra activities at the location. No cooking classes. No classes in Arabic. No calligraphy classes. One lonely Brazilian dance fighting class was left, with reports of it waning as well. (Vincent, I.)
Four years after the firestorm caused by the announcement of the Park51 project, Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf, the public figure most often associated with the project, has run off into hiding and is accused of spending much of the money meant for the project on his own lavishness. Sharif El-Gamal, the real estate developer behind the project, has gotten ahold of two adjacent properties, but is facing being evicted from his landlords at the original location (a former Burlington Coat Factory). No extra construction has begun on any of the buildings and the only used area is that used as a Mosque. (Sheftel, B.)
Is it morally right to buil a Mosque at Ground Zero? It would seem the only logical move would be to build something that would respect the religious backgrounds of every individual lost in the accident, lest one would risk offending the survivors and those still mourning lost loved ones. However, this Mosque discussed above is not located directly at Ground Zero, therefor it is the opinion of this author that it would be acceptable. However, the debate would seem a mute point as it is already there. It would seem that the question is no longer “Is it morally right to build the mosque at ground zero?” but is it morally right to say you are going to build a mosque close to ground zero and then run away with all of the money and not even follow through on your promise to do
Fox News. (August 2, 2010). Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/08/02/new-york-mosque-controversy-fires-national-campaign/, 02/24/2014
Jackson, J. (May 6, 2010) the New York daily news. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/plan-mosque-world-trade-center-site-moves-article-1.444850, 02/26/2014
Jacoby, J. (June 6, 2010). The Boston Globe. Retrieved from http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2010/06/06/a_mosque_at_ground_zero/, 02/24/2014
Sheftel, B. (April 24, 2013). New York Daily News. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/real-estate/ground-zero-mega-mosque-article-1.1326154, 02/24/2014
Vincent, Isabel. (December 9, 2012). New York Post. Retrieved from http://nypost.com/2012/12/09/no-community-programs-at-ground-zero-mosque-a-year-after-the-controversy/, 02/26/2014
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