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Aug 22 2010

My visit to the “Ground Zero Mosque”

I’ve been doing a lot of sight seeing in New York, and one of the places I stopped by is Ground Zero. I felt compelled to visit it, like it was some sort of patriotic duty as an American. There’s really not much to see, especially since all of the area is surrounded by a fence advertising the 9/11 memorial that’s going to be built where the two towers used to stand. It is pretty amazing how large the area is, and how it’s still pretty much just a large hole filled with cranes – I thought it would be more far along after 9 years.
While I was in the area, I decided to stop by the controversial “Ground Zero Mosque.” I use quotes because 1. It’s not a mosque, it’s a Muslim community center that will include (amongst many other things) an area for prayer, and 2. It’s not exactly near Ground Zero. We had to walk a couple blocks to get there, and then down a quiet side street. It by no means feels like it’s on top of Ground Zero.
We recognized the building because there were people with signs outside. I was ready for some anti-Muslim xenophobic protests, but I was pleasantly surprised:

All of the people there were supporters of Park51 and had signs about freedom of religion. I was definitely pleasantly surprised. There were some chalkings as well:The guy with the goatee let us know that friends were welcome to dinner at 8pm, regardless if they were Muslim or not. Though he did say women would eat in a separate room, and after a quick glance at my outfit, confirmed that I was modestly dressed enough to come. We already had plans, but it was a nice offer.

It was great to know other people haven’t gone totally insane in this country. I may be an atheist, but I totally support freedom of religion. Even if Park51 was nothing more than a mosque, and even if it was right next to Ground Zero, I would still defend their right to build it there. 9/11 may have been caused by Muslim religious extremists, but it wasn’t representative of all Muslims. We have to remember that people of all religious beliefs, including Muslims, died in 9/11, either as victims who were in the towers or responders who were trying to save lives.

105 comments

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  1. 1
    Alise Wright

    Your last comment is where I have been camping lately. How can it be offensive to 9/11 families when some of those families were Muslim? How can we do them the disservice of A) Lumping them in with the extremists, and B) Ignoring their own losses?That’s about as unAmerican a thing as I can think. Ugh.

  2. 2
    Ayoub

    That is wonderful… Thank you for sharing!

  3. 3
    Knomadd

    Not the signs I would have expected either. “It was great to know other people haven’t gone totally insane in this country” sums things up quiet nicely. Tah!

  4. 4
    Rhacodactylus

    This is actually sort of cool, it’s not often I get a chance to agree with someone holding a sign in one hand and an american flag in the other.

  5. 5
    Livingonsteak

    Unfortunately the extremists of any group always get labeled as the stereotype of that group, simply because they are the loudest. It’s things like this that caused me to stop reading/watching the news.

  6. 6
    Egoistpaul

    Did you see any secret Al Qaeda members? Many Mosques in the US and Canada are places where senior Al Qaeda officers active recruit new members.

  7. 7
    Kevin Jones

    I am in the middle. Yes, they have ever right to build where they choose even though the lead Muslim guy has extremist ties and has said some incendiary things. But some of the family members of the Muslims who were killed on 9/11 have come out opposed to this mosque. Why are even their wishes ignored?I say ‘mosque’ because that is the main point everyone sticks at, there will be one there and this will be classified as a place of worship. There will be segregation of the sexes in this building, just like the dinner party you mention above, because this is a Muslim cultural center. To me, this is about cultural understanding. Would you visit a place that segregated races? Maybe if it was already in operation and you wanted to make a point and take a stand against it, but we no longer allow such places to exist and we sure as hell do not allow them to be built. Intellectually and legally, let them build. Culturally, they should build it somewhere else.Personally, I really have no say in the decision either way. I do find it hard to support someone who would do me harm because I do not believe as they do. At least the Christians and Jews would not kill me if I draw God or Jehovah.

  8. 8
    Andrew Hall

    Nice post Jen.I did a post on how my feelings have changed over time concerning the mosque.http://laughinginpurgatory.blo

  9. 9
    Varun Prasad

    Now you are just making up stuff (actually this whole issue is completely fabricated with political intentions).”lead Muslim guy has extremist ties and has said some incendiary things” – Which is why Bush had him lead missions to Islamic countries to improve ties. You know who else said incendiary stuff? Pretty much every Evangelical Right leader (Robertson, Haggard, Falwell). I don’t see any protests against churches near abortion centers. The Pope (actually, he was a Nazi. The real kind. Not the made up kind everyone you hate is compared to). I don’t see any protests against Catholic churches near playgrounds and schools.”Why are even their wishes ignored” – If they owned the property there, then maybe they would have some say. In the meanwhile, their wishes are as useful as the non-Muslims who lost family on 9-11 and support the mosque. Why should their wishes be ignored? The “local” community board that actually represents that community voted overwhelmingly in favor. Why should their wishes be ignored? Even our favorite Right Wing noise machine, Fox News (whose largest shareholder after the Murdochs is ironically, a Saudia Arabian Mooslim) supported this project when it was proposed last November through Laura Ingraham, before they realized what political gold it was.”this is about cultural understanding”. Up is down. And lack of understanding is understanding. Thank you. You are like those Klansmen who complain how others are being so intolerant of their intolerance.

  10. 10
    K.W. Ramsey

    Wait, Americans can be patriotic and intelligent at the same time? Well colour me surprised! And here the rest of the world had you guys pegged as flag waving idjits without a clue in the world.BTW, in case anyone didn’t get it I’m joking. I’ve talked to a wide variety of Americans in some of my previous jobs and I know that it’s actually a relatively small minority that are flag waving idiots. Heck, even Texans can be pleasant to deal with. I used to work at a 7-11 (thankfully I have a real job now) and our support desk was down in Texas. Let me say, the ladies that had staffing it were a joy to deal with, always super helpful and pleasant. Some of the New Yorkers I dealt with on another job doing tech support, not so much.

  11. 11
    Tom Baxter

    If you want to see a Hallowed Ground Zero, look at your feet. You’re standing on the site of massive bloodletting or an ethnic cleansing derived from one. Like capitalism, the US was born covered in blood and gore.Well, that’s not entirely true. Sometimes the threat of hot lead and cold steel was enough to get some First Nations to surrender and on death marches to concentration camps.

  12. 12
    libraboy

    This post made me very happy.

  13. 13
    Alexander Wilkins

    Yay Jen. Thanks for being rational once again.

  14. 14
    Arancaytar

    With so much rabid teapartying being splashed over the news, it’s pleasantly surprising to see people acting rationally. I already knew that this was far less a big deal in New York itself than it was in the Bible Belt (what a ridiculously manufactured controversy), but still, refreshing. :)

  15. 15
    Kevin Lyda

    Culturally, you should be better informed.The imam is a well respected man used by both the Bush and Obama admin to reach out to other countries on America’s behalf.It’s a cultural center which will have an area for prayer. There already is a mosque which is closer to Ground Zero. And there’s a mosque in the Pentagon – if you’ll recall something happened there in 9/11.And yes, there are Christians and Jews who *will* kill you if you do things that they deem offensive – just ask the friends and family of Dr. George Tiller.As an American, New York native and an atheist who actually paid attention in his civics classes, I find your post offensive, ignorant and disrespectful. An apology would be the least you could offer.

  16. 16
    Mike1325

    An atheist defending religious freedom is truly an American act. Tolerance is a missing element today. I am proud you’re true to your beliefs.

  17. 17
    Kevin Jones

    Thank you for that reactionary reply. You didn’t listen to what I said, but maybe I wasn’t clear enough. Let me clarify.First of all, Sharif El-Gamal has ties to Islamic extremist, what leader in any given area doesn’t because there are extremist in EVERY field, and, incidentally, that is why he was chosen to be a diplomatic envoy to the Middle East. He has also said incendiary things like the US government was partly responsible for 9/11. You didn’t deny what I said, but paraded out a list of Christian extremists and viewpoints. Logically, that is bunk.To clarify, despite whatever Sharif El-Gamal’s personal feelings or viewpoints may be, the organization has the legal right to build where they choose.Your second point, my statement may not be clear because I did not elaborate and especially unclear for those people, such as yourself, who live in a foreign nation (according to your profile location of Mumbai). Here, those opposed to the mosque, even those who had family members murdered on 9/11, are daily and continuously painted as right-wing Christian extremists who are racists to boot, while those family members of the Muslims who were murdered on 9/11 are ignored because it does not fit the preconceived and left-wing talking points. There are even US Muslim groups who have said it should be built in a different location. So, to clarify that particular point, this is a political football and dissenting opinions are ignored if they don’t follow either sides talking points, the Muslims whose family members were murdered on 9/11 included.While I admit I may have bungled the passage a little you referenced in your third point, you actually made my point. There are large segments of the Islamic faith that are extremely intolerant and they complain when that intolerance is pointed out and labeled as such. But you went farther, you compared me to “Klansmen who complain how others are being so intolerant of their intolerance”. You say I have a lack of understanding.I say, I understand a charge of apostasy can be a death sentence. That men can have adultery charges against them dropped and the woman involved killed. That you can be imprisoned if you carry Christian materials prohibited in Muslim countries and possibly put to death. That a family can become extremely well off if their son or daughter becomes a martyr and kills the infidels. That if you leave the faith, and especially if you criticize Islam, you will have to live with 24/7 protection because you are under a death warrant, or fatwa, issued by church elders. That women must be clothed head to toe as to not arouse men and that to criticize this will be your death.That if someone draws Mohamed, even if they are not a part of Islam and never have been, their lives and their family’s lives will be threatened in a very real way.I also understand that this is not every Muslim’s opinion, just as every Christian does not hate Jews nor believe that homosexuality is wrong.I understand that only by learning from each other can cultural understanding be achieved, thus the building of this center is an opportunity for cultural understanding. Understanding, though, does not mean acceptance.I personally can not tolerate those who would oppress others. If that makes me intolerant of some religious tenants, then I am intolerant.Fortunately, people tend not to be their things, their cars, their homes or their religions. And there in lies the hope of the future, not in religion, but the acceptance of everyone for who they are, not for what they may or may not worship.

  18. 18
    wonderbread

    That was a very sensible breakdown and I liked the separation of the issue into intellectual/legal and cultural. You are also dead on regarding segregation.

  19. 19
    Kevin Jones

    Thank you for your reply. Hopefully my reply to Varun above may clarify some of what I said.I only recently heard there was a mosque near Ground Zero, though the arguments I hear against Park 51 are more towards ‘intent’ than ‘use’. The whole situation surrounding Park 51 has become way bigger than just a simple building and seems to have moved beyond into what constitutes a proper memorial and what should be contained within that radius. As I said above, let them build it. I wonder, though, if, after ten years, were we not closer to actually having some sort of start to building at Ground Zero and on a memorial, would this would be as big an issue as it is?I never said Christians and Jews could not be as violent and destructive as their Islamic counterparts, not sure where you got that. Parts of Africa or Eastern Europe spring to mind.Oh, and thank you for calling me ‘ignorant’ and ‘disrespectful’.

  20. 20
    LS

    As big as this issue is, and as much as I do support their freedom to build whatever they want wherever they want, I find myself exceptionally apathetic about this issue. I oppose the building of ANY place intended to house religion. I oppose it in the “I rather wish you wouldn’t” way, not the “I will stop you” way. That’s not changing simply because this construction is facing a type of opposition I consider unethical. Once this building is constructed, it will be used to ruin lives. Because that’s what religion, particularly Islam, does to people. So, yeah, I support their right to build this building. And I believe they probably will build it. But if they don’t? I’m not shedding any tears. The constitution is spit on every day when it comes to the rights of Atheists. I’ll save my tears for that. Yes, my attitude is harmful. I realize that.

  21. 21
    Carl Viñas

    I’m a New Yorker. I support it. I don’t need too, nor care to explain my reasons why any further.

  22. 22
    ɹןʇnqן

    Other than “especially Islam” I agree with your post 100%. Has everyone forgot the years of terrorism in Ireland over very slightly different brands of Christianity?

  23. 23
    ExPenty

    http://www.atheistcartoons.com

  24. 24
    LS

    Sorry, I sometimes forget to make note of when I’m speaking strictly about the modern United States. The reason I single out Islam as being particularly effective at ruining lives is because the Islamic culture in America is extremely isolationist. So while Christians, Jews, etc try to espouse an “In the world, not of the world” philosophy, which allows their children to be exposed to different ideas, and gives then an avenue through which to reject their indoctrination, the Islamic community here (in my experience) teaches more of a “Purity VS. Evil” view of the world, which makes it much more difficult to break free of indoctrination. There are a lot of christian groups, by the way, which also teach the “Purity Vs. Evil” view of the outside world, but it seems to be a smaller percentage of the overall christian community than the Islamic community. This is, of course, only my personal experience with these groups, and not based on any statistical research. I could be very wrong.

  25. 25
    mcbender

    Your position is identical to mine on this matter; I just wanted to second it.However, I do not think your “attitude is harmful”. There’s a great deal to be said in favour of blunt honesty.

  26. 26
    Ntsc

    What Carl said.

  27. 27
    aureagle

    The news of building a mosque at ground zero is just to distract the majority of American moderate people from the criminal act that terry jones is up to. As the 911 is an inside job there is no point in accusing muslims of being killers. And as far as I’m concerned, I’d like to kill terry jones myself for what he is doing. terry jones and his followers are taking america to a war now, and this time I don’t think america would not be hurt. terry jones is the real culprit behind all this. The mosque is not being built at ground zero at all, it’s just a propaganda going on. (just to distract as I’ve mentioned).Eagle.

  28. 28
    Cat

    You’re dead on in the last paragraph, but this part : “The guy with the goatee let us know that friends were welcome to dinner at 8pm, regardless if they were Muslim or not. Though he did say women would eat in a separate room, and after a quick glance at my outfit, confirmed that I was modestly dressed enough to come.” was vomit worthy. Sexism and gender segregation, what fun.

  29. 29
    Rollingforest

    If they were secret, how would she know?There are churches where people recruit abortion clinic bombers, but like Jen said, we don’t ban churches near abortion clinics.

  30. 30
    ckitching

    First of all, Sharif El-Gamal has ties to Islamic extremist, what leader in any given area doesn’t because there are extremist in EVERY field, and, incidentally, that is why he was chosen to be a diplomatic envoy to the Middle East.

    Then what exactly is your point? If there are extremists in every field and a leader in a particular shared field is going to come into contact with them, then what you said becomes little more than a throw-away smear.

    He has also said incendiary things like the US government was partly responsible for 9/11.

    I don’t really want to defend these words because it’s an annoying habit that is common to many ‘moderates’, but that’s just history. The fact of the matter is that, in the past, the US government directly funded some of the groups that were responsible for 9/11. If they had not, the attack may not have happened (or something else may have happened). But even if we ignore the history, there is still the fact that this behaviour hardly unique to Muslims. Take Salman Rushdie — many Christian organizations and spokespeople would speak against the death sentence while also defending those who wished to kill him by saying that he brought it upon himself with his blasphemy. Or take Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has been criticized by Christians by saying her problems were brought upon herself because she’s the kind of person who’s always itching for a fight. I find it very hard to get upset at this man for doing the same thing many Christians of all kinds are just as guilty of.

  31. 31
    Rollingforest

    I meant to say “…like Varun Prasad (below) said…”

  32. 32
    ckitching

    The whole situation surrounding Park 51 has become way bigger than just a simple building and seems to have moved beyond into what constitutes a proper memorial and what should be contained within that radius.

    Then perhaps you can answer. What radius would be respectable? 3 blocks? 4? 5? 10? 100?

  33. 33
    TerranRich

    “Why are even their wishes ignored?”Because of our First Amendment. Sorry to say, but if any number of people are offended at a group’s First Amendment rights, that doesn’t mean their rights are nullified. There are no provisions or conditions or prerequisites for having the right to practice religion.If the Park51 owners were forced to relocate, their rights would be infringed, plain and simple.Your last statement seems to be guilty of lumping all Muslims under the same umbrella of extremism. I know plenty of Muslims who would never harm anybody. In fact, my brother-in-law is a Muslim who married my Catholic sister. According to plenty of rumors and misinformation out there, my sister should’ve been killed by now.

  34. 34
    TerranRich

    He didn’t call YOU ignorant or disrespectful. He called your POST those things. Please don’t conflate the two.

  35. 35
    Givesgoodemail

    The very fact that women would have to dine in a separate facility says to me that they’re not good enough to dine with the men, that women possess some sort of inferiority.I don’t object to the building of a mosque (that includes a community center). I object to the cruel timing of its opening and the complete lack of empathy toward those who lost loved ones. Yes, including the Muslims who died.

  36. 36
    Bojac6

    It’s not a Mosque. Let’s get that straight. Just like not every place of Christian worship is a Church, not every place of Islamic Worship is a Mosque. It’s a community center that has a prayer room. Just like most YMCA’s have a prayer room. Calling it a Mosque is like saying a hospital is a church because it has a chapel in it.

  37. 37
    Alexander Wilkins

    I don’t see why they should care to build it during a different time off year. Who knows the whole thing could take longer than a year to build, should they stop around September? In fact this was proposed in December of last year and it’s only now anybody is freaking out about it. Is it only the timing that’s really a concern? If it were built in September but in Seattle would that be an issue? I’m guessing no, so it also has to do with the vicinity. *If* that’s the case then how far away does it have to be from ground zero for it to be ok? It’s already two blocks away.And how could this at all be offensive or unsympathetic to the families of the victims? What connection is there between this community center (already being used as a place of worship) and the extremists who did the attack? Nothing more than a label; Muslim. We have no indication that that their theology or their worldview is in anyway the same. In fact from what I’ve seen said they are vastly different. So what other connection do these people have to the radical that make their actions lacking in empathy? As far as I’m concerned it’s no different than a Muslim building a subway restaurant there. I just honestly don’t get these arguments and I wonder what I’m missing if anything.

  38. 38
    Givesgoodemail

    At the risk of appearing to be a blogwhore (well, maybe I am a *little*), here’s a longer version of my mini-rant.Like it or not, in the minds of many, many Americans there is a link between Islam and 9/11. In truth, those who plotted 9/11 use Islam merely as a smokescreen to achieve power and recognition. But moving the opening day to August 29, or October 1, would show that the mosque’s planners could show a modicum of respect to those who lost.

  39. 39
    nobody

    I’ve always been for allowing them to build the center. But I’m extremely disappointed to find out that they are gender segregating. It kind of pokes a hole in their being moderate, doesn’t it. They should still be allowed to build because it’s not like anyone would complain if they were Fundamentalist Christians (funny how no one in the media has pointed out the failure of Fundamentalist Christians to remove all their places of worship from Oklahoma City in a sensitivity move parallel to what they expect out of Muslims). But I’ve got a litmus test for moderate muslims: they don’t get to call themselves moderate if they either segregate by gender or are pissy about those Danish cartoons. Period.

  40. 40
    Rob

    Am I a bad atheist and liberal for thinking that they definitely have the right to build there, but they shouldn’t?The location is inflammatory enough. I’m more concerned by the Cordoba Initiative name itself. Muslims may remember Cordoba as a utopian place where knowledge and tolerance thrived…but it was still an Islamic occupation of Christian lands. It would be like Christians opening up a cultural center in Jerusalem and naming it after a Crusader fortress. Not going to help popular perceptions that the building is advancing some kind of religious colonialism.I fully support the right of people to worship and have houses of worship as they please. I would go to bat to support the right of the Cordoba Initiative to build close to Ground Zero. But that doesn’t change the fact that I think it’s needlessly inflammatory and in general a dumb idea.

  41. 41
    Tony B

    I support them on freedom of religion grounds. You are, however, a much more patient person than I. An invite to a segregated dinner followed by a moral judgement on my apparel would have probably resulted in an unkind response from me.

  42. 42
    Thomas Everett Haynes

    Well yeah, If they were together while eating they could lead the men into sexual deviancy, which has been known to cause natural disasters…

  43. 43
    Thomas Everett Haynes

    Ugh, we never stop crying over things. I swear to spaghetti that we would have not shut up about Pearl Harbor if the towers never fell. I understand that some people are still sensitive, but 9 years after anything we should have moved on. Holding grudges and making something out of nothing only gets more people hurt. Oh, and the first amendment only applies to Congress. I think the 14th amendment is the one that limits states and such.

  44. 44
    Alexander Wilkins

    “Like it or not, in the minds of many, many Americans there is a link between Islam and 9/11.”Thats there own problem, not these people’s. I stand by what I said, they have no obligation to change dates or the location. Especially not because people decided September (an arbitrary parameter) is sacred.

  45. 45
    Egoistpaul

    I didn’t expect her to know. I asked the question just to make her realize the nature of Al Qaeda.Personally, I think we should ban and burn those churches that sponsor such activities. People who don’t respect other people’s property rights should not have property rights.

  46. 46
    Erp

    The 14th amendment in combo with the 1st limits the states and local governments as far as religion, press, and assembly.In reply to earlier messages, the center is now known at Park 51 not Cordoba. I suspect a closer analogy to Cordoba would be a Christian group naming a center Amsterdam in memory of the religious tolerance Amsterdam showed circa 1600s (though not full rights to religious minorities such as Jews or Catholics); Crusaders were not known for their religious tolerance ever.

  47. 47
    Azkyroth

    Poe?

  48. 48
    Rob

    My objection to naming it Cordoba isn’t a matter of religious tolerance–it’s a matter of occupation. While there may have been tolerance in Cordoba, it was still a colonial state that warred against the native Spanish in the north. Hardly a suitable image for dialogue.At any rate, I’m glad that the Cordoba Initiative has renamed this particular project.

  49. 49
    ExPenty

    Because of course, the Spanish would never go in for colonialism, would they?Oh wait, I forgot. They did. And they were big on the religious persecution in the lands they subjugated too.Take the terms “Muslim” and “mosque” out of the equation and those who oppose this development don’t hav ea leg to stand on.

  50. 50
    Peter B

    “Colonial state”? “Native Spanish”? What’s different between the Muslim occupation of Christian Spain and the Visigothic occupation of Roman Spain which preceded it by about 250 years?And “native” Spanish? Which people are they? The ruling classes of Spain at the time of the Muslim conquest were Visigoths – originally Germanic-speaking barbarian conquerors of the Western Roman Empire. Before them were Roman colonists, Carthaginian colonists and a few Greek colonists. If the Muslim conquerors aren’t “native”, then presumably the Visigoths, Romans, Carthaginians and Greeks also don’t get to count as native either. I wonder what proportion of the population *that* was in 711AD.

  51. 51
    Jen

    That’s not what Cordoba was picked for. From wikipedia:”Some opponents also criticized its original name, Cordoba, alleging it to be a reference to the Islamic conquest of the Christian city of Córdoba;[27][28] the project’s sponsors explained that the name was meant to invoke 8th–11th century Córdoba, which they call a model of peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Christians, and Jews.”Just more xenophobic propaganda from the right…

  52. 52
    EdenBunny

    Just some things you might be interested in:A muslim who spoke out loudly about 9/11:http://thethirdjihad.com/His opinion on the Ground Zero “Cultural Center” (originally planned as a mosque):http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumn…Since you mentioned Ayaan Hirsi Ali, here’s a video of her (ignore the title; there is no strong evidence for it’s claim, nor does Ayaan make this claim in the video):http://vodpod.com/watch/3371053-ny-cordoba-mosq…Aslo, here’s another muslim who doesn’t share the “Islam is just like every other religion” view:http://www.irshadmanji.com/home

  53. 53
    Ezra Resnick

    I agree that Muslims have a legal right to build mosques wherever churches and synagogues may be built. However, statements like “9/11 may have been caused by Muslim religious extremists, but it wasn’t representative of all Muslims” and “the extremists of any group always get labeled as the stereotype of that group” seem somewhat out of touch with reality. We cannot ignore the fact that Islam is currently disproportionately responsible for terrorism and violence. (And I don’t see how the fact that Muslims also suffered on 9/11 is relevant.) You don’t see Christians or Buddhists flying planes into buildings or issuing death threats over cartoons. Islam, as a system of beliefs, includes some very scary (though massively well-subscribed) principles, like martyrdom and jihad, and this needs to be pointed out and not ignored for fear of being politically incorrect. Islam must be pressured to modernize, as other religions have (and moderate Muslims should be the first to acknowledge this).I’ve written some more about religious freedom and the “clash of civilizations” here.

  54. 54
    Gwenny Todd

    You do realize that Muslims have been meeting there for 2 years? They have gone through a lengthy process of approval. No one had any problem with until some pundit, probably in the pay of some politico, made it an ELECTION YEAR ISSUE. That’s all it is. None of the Congress critters care about this. It’s all about stirring up the redneck, mouth breathers who somehow have figured out how to fill out a ballot.NOT building this will give the terrorists the REAL win. They will have succeeded in enabling American born terrorists . . the fundamentalists whose message is hate and who are trying to take over our government. We will become more like the bin Laden et all . . intolerant haters. I’m glad you are good with that. But I feel great shame that this is even an issue.

  55. 55
    Kevin Jones

    Again, why drag in another group’s viewpoints?If you had read on you would have gotten my point:”To clarify, despite whatever Sharif El-Gamal’s personal feelings or viewpoints may be, the organization has the legal right to build where they choose.”

  56. 56
    Kevin Jones

    Point taken. By the time I got to the bottom, I felt it was personal. My apologies to Lyda for that particular statement.

  57. 57
    Kevin Jones

    Don’t know and it is not my decision, as I pointed out.

  58. 58
    Kevin Jones

    Again, read what I actually stated, not what you assume it to be.

  59. 59
    Kevin Jones

    Will men and women be treated equally and allowed to worship and exercise side by side?If that was true, I would even have less of a problem with it.

  60. 60
    Rob

    Missing the point. ALL colonialism is bad, including Cordoba. Like I said they have the right to build…but they could do a lot better job on the PR front.

  61. 61
    ckitching

    Then what exactly is your point? It looks awfully like you’re just trying to be a fear monger. You try to paint him as an extremist, and then counter your own claims. You throw out claim after claim about him, with no support offered for any of them (one of which I attempted to dismiss by pointing out that he simply shares an annoying habit with many others).I have no love for Islam (or any religion), but I do feel strongly that a person should be judged by his or her actions and views, not by the actions or views of their peers. If you have some evidence that he is an extremist and dangerous, let’s hear it. Otherwise, stop smearing.

  62. 62
    ckitching

    *shrug* There are plenty of reasons why they should reconsider building it. It will hurt some people’s feelings. The intentions can be misinterpreted. And so on. But, as just about everyone pointed out, there is no reason to prohibit them from building it.And I did not make the claim Islam is just like every other religion. I only claimed that its apologists share some annoying traits with apologists from other religions (the “Yeah, it’s tragic and we deplore the violence, but if it wasn’t for…” ploy to be specific).

  63. 63
    EdenBunny

    Why so defensive, ckitching?I never said you made, or even shared, the claim that Islam is just like every other religion. I just suggested that you might be interested in the views of some people who are a lot more familiar with Islam than either you or I, who do not share that claim, which is often made by muslims who, as Dr. Jasser put it, “seem to conveniently view 9/11, al Qaeda and every manifestation of militant Islamism as simply a public-relations problem for ‘Muslims in the West.’ “However I must apologize for my presumptive suggestion. I see from your post that you are not at all interested in their views.

  64. 64
    Ashwan Lewis

    > but it was still an Islamic occupation of Christian landsI suppose no one lived there before the Christians then?

  65. 65
    Peter B

    Well, the name “New York” is a fine representation of colonialism. Perhaps the city should change its name too.

  66. 66
    EdenBunny

    I clicked on your link and I thank you for a well-written analysis of the situation. However there are a couple points of which I would have to challenge the certainty:(1) “We do not allow Muslims to genitally mutilate their girls…” Well, actually since early May of this year, depending on how what “We” (our society) “allow” is defined, this might have changed. Perhaps technically, it is still illegal, but given the defense of a less severe version of the practice by American Academy of Pediatrics, some authorities may already be turning a blind eye to it in some cases. Laws are not always enforced, and when well-respected professional organizations offer opposing opinions to them, laws are bound to lose some of their authority. I would agree, however, that our laws irrefutably prohibit the severe FGM in which a girl’s clitoris is entirely removed, regardless of the perpetrator’s religious belief.(2) “If the Haredim suddenly found themselves alone in a state of their own, they wouldn’t last a week — no matter how hard they prayed for their God to sustain them.” This may be an exaggeration. While “Sixty percent of the men do not have regular jobs, preferring religious study, which is heavily subsidized by the government”, there is no reason to assume that the other 40 percent would not rush in with their support if the government suddenly withdrew, or even that the 60/40 ratio would not become 5/95 in response to the situation. There are states with almost entirely religious Islamic populations that do persist for much longer than a week (admittedly they do not persist comfortably) and the Haredim would have over such states the economic advantage that no portion of their GNP would be allocated for bombs to strap to their children, or rockets to use on both external and internal threats such as children’s schools and dance halls. Some of this advantage would admittedly be eliminated if they were entirely surrounded by Fundamentalist Islamic states, but nothing in your hypothetical situation prevented them from being, for example, bordered on one side by Israel and on the other by the Mediterranean Sea, or, for that matter, on an isolated Island in the Pacific. The Amish, for all practical purposes, have their own state in Pennsylvania (well, actually, they are subject to some outside law, but they are financially independent, and in fact pay taxes without collecting benefits), and they have persisted for far longer than a week.

  67. 67
    EdenBunny

    Sorry, this post was intended as a reply to Ezra Resnick, not as a new thread…

  68. 68
    Rob

    Now you’re just being obstinate. We should acknowledge that the past has been bloody and unjust, but changing the name that NY has held for the last 400 years is clearly impractical. Whereas changing the name of the proposed building from Cordoba House is quite easy and may help other people to get behind the project. I’m glad that the folks developing the site saw things the same way and changed to the name to Park51.

  69. 69
    Rob

    Wow Jen, I’m hurt. I’m quite a liberal person. I also have a degree in Middle Eastern studies from the University of Michigan. I grew up in Dearborn, MI which has one of the largest populations of Arabs and Muslims in the US. In short, I’m fairly well versed in the history and culture of Islam.My $0.02: Yes, there was mostly peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Christians, and Jews. And Cordoba saw a lot of artistic and technological advances. The indisputable fact though is that Cordoba was based upon the Umayyad invasion from north Africa in 711 (the one that was halted in France by Charlemagne). The Umayyads never stopped fighting the Christian forces in the north and west. Several hundred years later the Christian forces succeeded in pushing the Ummayads back across the Mediterranean.This is where the matter of perception comes in. To my Muslim friends, Cordoba represented the pinnacle of Islamic culture. Literature and the arts thrived, science advanced, and trade flourished. To historically-minded Christians though, it was a four hundred year foreign invasion. Speaking as an academically minded person, this is where the double standard comes in. If you speak out against the Crusades (as well you should) you should also speak out against the Islamic offensive in Spain. Both were cases of religiously motivated groups trying to take as much territory as possible. I realize that it is not popular or PC of me to suggest that Muslims were aggressive and imperialistic back in the day (as opposed to victims of Christian aggression), but it is a matter of historical record.—–Bringing this all back to the question at hand, you cannot separate the cultural achievements of Cordoba from the fact that it was the product of a religiously-motivated invasion, which could very well be termed a crusade. The matter’s moot because they renamed the building Park51. I’m glad that someone in their organization saw things in a more inclusive light.

  70. 70
    Rob

    There certainly were, and if they were around today to protest Christian expansion while still respecting religious rights, I would support them. I am not pro-Christian or anti-Muslim. I’m just a man who dislikes crusades and naming conventions that honor them.

  71. 71
    Peter B

    With the greatest of respect, Rob, what I’m trying to do is apply to other cities and situations the rule you’re applying only to the Arabs in Spain (and the Crusades to a lesser extent).With regard to the building, as far as I’m concerned, they could call it what they wanted. They *could* easily have chosen a far more provocative name than “Cordoba” – I’ll let you guess some examples. The test then would have been the response of America’s atheists and Christians. Do you think Christians would have turned the other cheek, as Jesus suggested? Do you think the atheists would have resisted the urge to point out the evils of religion?This is the thing – none of us have the right to not be offended by what others say.

  72. 72
    Peter B

    Rob said: “The indisputable fact though is that Cordoba was based upon the Umayyad invasion from north Africa in 711 (the one that was halted in France by Charlemagne). The Umayyads never stopped fighting the Christian forces in the north and west. Several hundred years later the Christian forces succeeded in pushing the Ummayads back across the Mediterranean.”Please don’t try to present the history of Spain from 711 to 1492 as simply a war between Muslim on one side and Christian on the other. There were plenty of occasions where battles involved Christians and Muslims on both sides. It was far more complex than a battle of religions.”This is where the matter of perception comes in… To historically-minded Christians though, it was a four hundred year foreign invasion.”And to historians with *no* religious axe to grind, it was a period during which religion was only one of a number of factors which governed the relationships between multiple Muslim and Christian states.”Speaking as an academically minded person, this is where the double standard comes in. If you speak out against the Crusades (as well you should) you should also speak out against the Islamic offensive in Spain. Both were cases of religiously motivated groups trying to take as much territory as possible. I realize that it is not popular or PC of me to suggest that Muslims were aggressive and imperialistic back in the day (as opposed to victims of Christian aggression), but it is a matter of historical record.”So how do you determine whether a war is religiously motivated or not? I’ve already mentioned how Christians and Muslims fought on both sides of battles in Spain. They also did so in the lands conquered by the Crusades. What about the campaigns of the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius against the Persian Empire in the early 7th century? If so, what about the campaigns of the Emperor John Tzimiskes against the various Arab states in the 10th century? If so, what about the campaigns of Muslim states against each other? Or Christian states against each other? Your terminology is so slippery it could be applied to any war before the start of the 20th century, and to most wars since then too.”Bringing this all back to the question at hand, you cannot separate the cultural achievements of Cordoba from the fact that it was the product of a religiously-motivated invasion, which could very well be termed a crusade.”I’ve already mentioned that you can apply exactly the same reasoning to the name of New York. It would also apply to many city names in Latin America. Why single out Cordoba?”The matter’s moot because they renamed the building Park51. I’m glad that someone in their organization saw things in a more inclusive light.”It may be moot in this case, but the issue is still worth discussing.

  73. 73
    Gary Rumain

    Yeah, arselifters also died on 9/11. They were some of the 19 who hijacked 4 planes – two of which were flown in the WTC towers.How unAmerican is that?

  74. 74
    Gary Rumain

    Its another arselifter terrorist training center.

  75. 75
    Gary Rumain

    Of course not. When a gay bar for arselifter homosexuals was proposed to be established next door to this proposed moske, the imam started raving about “cultural sensitivities”. Which is odd when you consider their lack of the same.

  76. 76
    Gary Rumain

    And yet its odd that they are given unanimous approval so quickly yet the Greek Orthodox church at the foot of the WTC that was also destroyed on 9/11 was denied permission to rebuild.Care to explain why?

  77. 77
    Gary Rumain

    Too bad arselifters behead atheists in their own countries.

  78. 78
    Gary Rumain

    Only the fact that 9/11 is the last day of ramadamadingdong. The arselifters will go apeshit, as per usual, and celebrate with bloodletting. But don’t let that worry you.

  79. 79
    Gary Rumain

    And what peaceful coexistence would that be? Non-arselifters were treated as dhimmis, just as they were in every other arselifter-controlled country, and had to pay jizya and had to wear special labels on their clothes – pigs for Jews and apes for Christians.

  80. 80
    Gary Rumain

    Er … it was Charles Martel who halted the arselifter advance into France.

  81. 81
    Gary Rumain

    So, tell me, what freedom of religion do arselifters afford others in their countries? How many churches, synagogues or temples are there in Soddy Barbaria? How do the Copts (the descendants of the original Egyptians) feel about the way they are treated in Egypt by the majority Arabs? Or the way Arabs treat black Africans (both Christian and arselifter) in Sudan?

  82. 82
    Gary Rumain

    And what does this victory moske have to do with Spain?

  83. 83
    Gary Rumain

    How do you feel about these names -The Victory Moske?The 9/11 Moske?The Mahound Atta Moske?The Terrorist Moske?Are you fine with those too?

  84. 84
    Peter B

    What does Muslim treatment of non-Muslims in other countries have to do with the correct behaviour of Americans towards Muslims in the USA?

  85. 85
    Peter B

    Which “victory moske” [sic] are you talking about?

  86. 86
    EdenBunny

    This is a test. I’m going to see if I can delete it…

  87. 87
    Peter B

    Gary Rumain asks: “How do you feel about these names – The Victory Moske? The 9/11 Moske? The Mahound Atta Moske? The Terrorist Moske? Are you fine with those too?”Yes.They could call it the “Martyrs of 9/11″ mosque and I wouldn’t raise an objection. I’d think them wrong and stupid, but I wouldn’t raise an objection.

  88. 88
    Peter B

    Where do you live? What do you want to do “arselifters” where you live?

  89. 89
    Peter B

    What rubbish are you talking about?

  90. 90
    Peter B

    And……so what?

  91. 91
    EdenBunny

    Oh well, so much for that..No preview post button, edit button doesn’t work on my computer (I get the edit window, but I can’t alter the text in any way…), delete only removes a post from my profile, not from the blog…And the system sometimes posts my replies as a new thread…I’m beginning to not like Disqus a whole lot…Jen, if you can delete this test post, please do, and thanks in advance…I was hoping I could re-post my misplaced replies in the proper threads and then delete the redundancy, but it’s a good thing I tested it first…

  92. 92
    EdenBunny

    Both are allowed to build there. The Church just doesn’t have the funds, and their deal with the Port Authority fell through. The Cordoba Mosque- I mean, The Cordoba Muslim Cultural Center- I mean, Cordoba House- wait, no, I mean, Park51, yeah, that’s it, Park51- has no such financial worries, as its organizers seem to feel confident that they can rely upon the heavy financial support of one or more currently unnamed (how ironic) benefactors.

  93. 93
    Rob

    Good catch. Like I said, Middle Eastern studies major, not European. Charlemagne was Charles Martel’s grandson.

  94. 94
    Rob

    I think what we’re closing in on here is a semantic argument over the difference between taking offense and demanding that something be halted. I agree that none of us have the right to not be offended. But surely the counterpart to that is the right to be offended and voice your concerns. I would never demand that Park51 be abandoned. I have no right or desire to force my beliefs on anyone else. But I can (and will) voice my concern if I think that an issue matters.

  95. 95
    Rob

    I think we’ve gone over some of the points further on down here, but I’d like to give you my reasoning behind a few:My labeling of the Ummayad wars in Spain as primarily religiously motivated comes from the Arabic records of the period. They record the expansion west across north Africa and north into Spain as part of a divine mandate. The struggles in Spain are described as a jihad of sorts. Granted, most Arabic records and literature are religion-heavy, but I’m willing to accept that Islam played a major role in the expansion.As for the “why Cordoba” question, yes you certainly could apply that line of reasoning to other places and other cultures…but there is not a popular perception (no matter how undeserved) that other religions/cultures are invading the US.

  96. 96
    Anthony McCloskey

    The fact that they were going to make you eat in a separate room simply because you have a vagina is reason enough for me to be shocked and appalled at it’s proposed construction.

  97. 97
    Gary Rumain

    Which one do you think?

  98. 98
    Gary Rumain

    Ever heard the expression “what goes around, comes around”? Try living in their countries for a while and then try and realize why they behave the same way in the West. Or read the koran and figure out why they have the attitudes that they have.

  99. 99
    Gary Rumain

    Er … you’re not a dhimmi are you?

  100. 100
    Gary Rumain

    Nowhere near you (I hope), and I’d love to see them sent back to where they came from.

  101. 101
    Gary Rumain

    Are you sure about your facts because its not what I’ve read. They were denied permission to rebuild on their own land by the Port Authority.The victory moske planners have no money. Rauf is overseas right now on the US taxpayers’ dime (along with his wife) raising funds in Iran and Soddy Barbaria.

  102. 102
    EdenBunny

    There are two sides to the Greek Orthodox church story, but the bottom line is that it all boils down the church not having enough money:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S…As for the Islamic project, I never said they already had the money, just that they had no worries about getting it.

  103. 103
    Peter B

    What, Bradford?

  104. 104
    Peter B

    What’s that got to do with your statement about the end of Ramadan involving bloodletting?

  105. 105
    Peter B

    Ever hear the expression “turn the other cheek”? Why model your behaviour on the behaviour of others that you don’t like?Seems both immature and counter-productive to me.I would’ve thought that if you wanted to show the superiority of Western Civilisation over Muslim Civilisation, you should show them why they should aspire to our way of life.

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