Archive for Ground Zero Mosque

Charmed, I’m Sure

Visitors to the upper floors of the Muslim community center planned for near ground zero would walk through lofty spaces — for art exhibitions, for contemplation and prayer, for programs on interreligious dialogue, for a 9/11 memorial — as sunlight streams through irregularly shaped windows between white crisscrossing beams.

The building would be clad in a lattice of starlike shapes that echo traditional Islamic designs in the Middle East.

According to the rough plans, the upper floors would include space for art exhibitions and interfaith programs. There would also be a 9/11 memorial and a space open to people of “all faiths and of no faith” for prayer, contemplation and meditation.
That is the image presented in the tentative architectural renderings that the planners of the center, called Park51, have been showing at community meetings in recent weeks, and which were revealed to the wider public for the first time last week.

A sketch of the façade shows a latticework of white starlike designs, echoing patterns that can be seen in Islamic architecture and decorative tiles across the Middle East.

The design was meant to show “hints of tradition,” while the use of modern materials and glass panels would give an impression of translucence and “moving toward the future,” Sharif el-Gamal, the project’s developer, said in an interview last week.

Hey! Who screwed around with the image of the community center? That’s not funny!

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Those Intolerant New Yorkers

If you can ban mosques there,
You’ll ban them anywhere,
It’s up to you,
New York, New York!

Dah dah da-di-dah!

A New York Times poll of New York City residents that found that even this city, the country’s most diverse and cosmopolitan, is not immune to suspicion and to a sadly wary misunderstanding of Muslim-Americans.

It has always been a myth that New York City, in all its dizzying globalness, is a utopia of humanistic harmony. The city has a bloody history of ethnic and class strife. But thanks to density and diversity, it has become a place like few others in this country, where the world rubs shoulders on subways, stoops and sidewalks, where gruff tolerance prevails and understanding thrives.

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are two pinnacles of American openness to the outsider. New Yorkers like to think they are a perfect fit with their city.

Tolerance, however, isn’t the same as understanding, so it is appalling to see New Yorkers who could lead us all away from mosque madness, who should know better, playing to people’s worst instincts.

Anyone familiar with the history of the Reverend Al Sharpton knows what a myth its supposed “utopia of humanistic harmony” is. Just ask the survivors of Yankel Rosenbaum or the Freddie’s Fashion Mart fire.

Why should New Yorkers “know better”; or, more to the point, who says they don’t?

The real point: why does left-wing intellectual superiority always resort to smearing those who disagree with them? If they are so intellectual and so superior, why not simply win the argument? But, time and again, slandering and base name-calling is all they can do.

Dick Cavett, in a Times’ blog:

I’m genuinely ashamed of us. How sad this whole mosque business is. It doesn’t take much, it seems, to lift the lid and let our home-grown racism and bigotry overflow. We have collectively taken a pratfall on a moral whoopee cushion.

Surely, few of the opponents of the Islamic cultural center would feel comfortable at the “International Burn a Koran Day” planned by a southern church-supported group (on a newscast, I think I might have even glimpsed a banner reading, “Bring the Whole Family,” but maybe I was hallucinating). This all must have gone over big on Al Jazeera news.

I like to think I’m not easily shocked, but here I am, seeing the emotions of the masses running like a freight train over the right to freedom of religion — never mind the right of eminent domain and private property.

Of course: everyone who opposes the mosque also wants to burn a Koran. (Never mind that burning a Koran would be protected under the First Amendment.)

Private property? Is he serious? Since when did the left give a hoot about private property? (Of which eminent domain is often an enemy, so I don’t even get his point there.)

Racism and bigotry—are you New Yorkers going to take that from that basso profundo pipsqueak?

Why is the left afraid to answer the argument put forward by the other side—namely that this is not about the practice of religion, but the embrace of religious bigotry and the justification of terrorism? Would Cavett condemn the “masses” if they protested the Westboro Baptist Church erecting a cathedral on the site from which they could heckle the survivors every 9/11 with cries of “Thank God for 9/11″ and “God hates fags”?

How would this look in lower Manhattan instead of Topeka?

Imam Rauf would have us see the world through Iranian eyes and to understand where Hamass is coming from. (Today’s news informs us that a key financial backer of the mosque has contributed to Hamas in the past.)

To Cavett and the censorious editorial board of the Times, we say it is precisely because New Yorkers oppose intolerance that they oppose this mosque.

Care to answer that?

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More Thoughts on the Mosque

I was a little hard on myself over my attempt to explain how exactly I felt about the so-called Ground Zero mosque. I tried to make the point that while any religion has the right to practice its faith anywhere it chooses (subject to local regulations), that wasn’t the point. The point was that Imam Rauf and his financial backers don’t represent any kind of Islam that I recognize.

But I needn’t have been so self-deprecating.

Daniel Pipes feels the same way:

While Muslims have every legal right to build a mosque near Ground Zero, this initiative carries the unmistakable odor of Islamic triumphalism. More importantly, Abdul Rauf’s dubious background and associations give reason to worry that his center will spread Islamist ideology. Therefore, it should be barred from opening.

Very shortly after 9/11, Pipes made the statement that radical Islam was the problem, and moderate Islam would be the solution. I don’t how he still feels about that, but presumably Imam Rauf does not represent moderate Islam.

Here’s another person with an interesting perspective, Judea Pearl. His son, Daniel, was slaughtered on camera by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (at least he boasts of it). As Maureen Dowd said of Cindy Sheehan, he has “absolute moral authority” on the subject:

I have been trying hard to find an explanation for the intense controversy surrounding the Cordoba Initiative, whereby 71 percent of Americans object to the proposed project of building a mosque next to Ground Zero.

I cannot agree with the theory that such broad resistance represents Islamophobic sentiments, nor that it is a product of a “rightwing” smear campaign against one imam or another.

Americans are neither bigots nor gullible.

Deep sensitivity to the families of 9/11 victims was cited as yet another explanation, but this too does not answer the core question.

If one accepts that the 19 fanatics who flew planes into the Twin Towers were merely self-proclaimed Muslims who, by their very act, proved themselves incapable of acting in the name of “true Islam,” then building a mosque at Ground Zero should evoke no emotion whatsoever; it should not be viewed differently than, say, building a church, a community center or a druid shrine.

A more realistic explanation is that most Americans do not buy the 19 fanatics story, but view the the 9/11 assault as a product of an anti- American ideology that, for good and bad reasons, has found a fertile breeding ground in the hearts and minds of many Muslim youngsters who see their Muslim identity inextricably tied with this anti-American ideology.

BING-GO!!!

THE GROUND Zero mosque is being equated with that ideology. Public objection to the mosque thus represents a vote of no confidence in mainstream American Muslim leadership which, on the one hand, refuses to acknowledge the alarming dimension that anti-Americanism has taken in their community and, paradoxically, blames America for its creation.

The American Muslim leadership has had nine years to build up trust by taking proactive steps against the spread of anti-American terror-breeding ideologies, here and abroad.

Evidently, however, a sizable segment of the American public is not convinced that this leadership is doing an effective job of confidence building.

Pearl is a gem! Go, Judea!!

In public, Muslim spokespersons praise America as the best country for Muslims to live and practice their faith. But in sermons, speeches, rallies, classrooms, conferences and books sold at those conferences, the narrative is often different. There, Noam Chomsky’s conspiracy theory is the dominant paradigm, and America’s foreign policy is one long chain of “crimes” against humanity, especially against Muslims.

Overall, the message that emerges from this discourse is implicit, but can hardly be missed: When Muslim grievance is at question, America is the culprit and violence is justified, if not obligatory.

True, we have not helped Muslims in the confidence-building process. Treating homegrown terror acts as isolated incidents of psychological disturbances while denying their ideological roots has given American Muslim leaders the illusion that they can achieve public acceptance without engaging in serious introspection and responsibility sharing for allowing victimhood, anger and entitlement to spawn such acts.

The construction of the Ground Zero mosque would further prolong this illusion.

So, he’s agin’ it, right? Not on the graves of innocent Americans (of all faiths)? No way, no how? Alas, his moral authority falls just short of absolute:

If I were New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, I would reassert Muslims’ right to build the Islamic center and the mosque, but I would expend the same energy, not one iota less, in trying to convince them to put it somewhere else, or replace it with a community-managed all-faiths center in honor of the 9/11 victims.

See Pipes above for my last comment.

Except for this. Why Cordoba in the name Cordoba Initiative? Their answer:

The name Cordoba was chosen carefully to reflect a period of time during which Islam played a monumental role in the enrichment of human civilization and knowledge. A thousand years ago Muslims, Jews, and Christians coexisted and created a prosperous center of intellectual, spiritual, cultural and commercial life in Cordoba, Spain.

Yes, briefly, there was a Caliphate of Córdoba, for just over a century. And it wasn’t a half bad place to live, given the Dark Ages.

But it wasn’t exactly Eden, either.

From the Wikipedia article:

The Caliphate enjoyed immense prosperity throughout the 10th century. Abd-ar-Rahman III not only united al-Andalus, but brought the Christian kingdoms of the north, through force and diplomacy, under control.

The death of al-Hakam II in 976 marked the beginning of the end of the Caliphate of Córdoba. Before his death, al-Hakam named his 10 year old son Hisham II (976–1008) as successor. Seeing that the child was in no way competent to be Caliph, yet having sworn an oath of obedience to him, Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir (the top adviser to Hisham’s father, also known as Almanzor) pronounced him Caliph. Ibn Abi Aamir played guardian for the young Hisham, taking the Caliph’s powers until he was of age. Instead, he isolated Hisham in Córdoba while systematically eradicating his opposition.[8] He steadily allowed Berbers from Africa to immigrate to al-Andalus in order to build up his base of support. Ibn Abi Aamir led a cruel regime compared to Abd-ar-Rahman III. He did not shy away from using force to keep the Christians in check. He, and eventually his son Abd al-Malik (al-Muzaffar), would continue to keep power from Hisham until 1008 when al-Muzaffar died and his brother (Abd al-Rahman) pushed to become the successor of Caliph Hisham; Hisham complied. On a raid in the Christian north, a revolt tore through Córdoba. Abd al-Rahman never made it back.

I’ve been to Córdoba, and seen the Mezquita. It’s breathtaking.

But it’s a curious name for a supposed monument to peace, tolerance, and understanding.

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Decency, Indecency, Freedom, Respect, Mosque

Interesting perspective on the Ground Zero Mosque

The plan to erect a mosque of major proportions in what would have been the shadow of the World Trade Center involves not just the indisputable constitutional rights that sanction it, but, providentially, others that may frustrate it.

Mosques have commemoratively been established upon the ruins or in the shells of the sacred buildings of other religions—most notably but not exclusively in Cordoba, Jerusalem, Istanbul, and India. When sited in this fashion they are monuments to victory, and the chief objection to this one is not to its existence but that it would be near the site of atrocities—not just one—closely associated with mosques because they were planned and at times celebrated in them.

That is the core of the problem, isn’t it? Location, location, location. The building that the Muslims have selected for the Cordoba center was damaged by part of an airplane, piloted by Muslim terrorists, carrying human beings to their horrifying deaths. That is why people are so upset.

Building close to Ground Zero disregards the passions, grief and preferences not only of most of the families of September 11th but, because we are all the families of September 11th, those of the American people as well, even if not the whole of the American people. If the project is to promote moderate Islam, why have its sponsors so relentlessly, without the slightest compromise, insisted upon such a sensitive and inflammatory setting? That is not moderate. It is aggressively militant.

Disregarding pleas to build it at a sufficient remove so as not to be linked to an abomination committed, widely praised, and throughout the world seldom condemned in the name of Islam, the militant proponents of the World Trade Center mosque are guilty of a poorly concealed provocation. They dare Americans to appear anti-Islamic and intolerant or just to roll over.

But the opposition to what they propose is no more anti-Islamic or intolerant than to protest a Shinto shrine at Pearl Harbor or Nanjing would be anti-Shinto or even anti-Japanese. How about a statue of Wagner at Auschwitz, a Russian war memorial in the Katyn Forest, or a monument to British and American air power at Dresden? The indecency of such things would be neither camouflaged nor burned away by the freedoms of expression and religion. And that is what the controversy is about, decency and indecency, not the freedom to worship, which no one denies.

That’s right. You really should read the whole thing. He views this as a hostage situation, because we either have to sacrifice our constitution or accept the damn thing.

He has a solution to our miserable problem.

Their knowledge of the Constitution, however, does not penetrate very far, and perhaps they are not as clever as they think. The Constitution is a marvelous document, and a reasonable interpretation of it means as well that no American can be forced to pour concrete. No American can be forced to deliver materials. No American can be forced to bid on a contract, to run conduit, dig a foundation, or join steel.

And a reasonable interpretation of the Constitution means that the firemen’s, police, and restaurant workers’ unions, among others, and the families of the September 11th dead, and anyone who would protect, sympathize with and honor them, are free to assemble, protest and picket at the site of the mosque that under the Constitution is free to be built.

A reasonable interpretation of the Constitution means that no American can be forced to cross a picket line in violation of conscience or even of mere preference. Who, in all decency, would cross a picket line manned by those whose kin were slaughtered—by the thousands—so terribly nearby? And who in all decency would cross such a line manned by the firemen, police and other emergency personnel who know every day that they may be called upon to give their lives in a second act?

I did a quick check with someone I knew who has worked on many construction sites over the years, and he believes that the unions guys will build the mosque. It won’t work, but it is a wonderful fantasy.

This is so terrific:

Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, says of those who with heartbreaking bravery went into the towers: “We do not honor their lives by denying the very constitutional rights they died protecting.”

Mr. Mayor, the firemen, the police, the EMTs and the paramedics who rushed into those buildings, many of them knowing that they would die there, did not do so to protect constitutional rights. They went often knowingly to their deaths to protect what the Constitution itself protects: people, flesh and blood, men and women, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers. Although you yourself may not know this, they did.

And here’s Hope:

This small and symbolic crisis is not a test of constitutional liberties, for in regard to the question at hand the Constitution allows discretion. It is rather a test of how far America can be pushed, and America is not at all as powerless as it has been portrayed.

That is because the street in front of the mosque that the Constitution says can be built can be filled with people who can effectively protest it because the Constitution says that they are free. Those who do not fear to do so need only go there and stand upon their convictions, their beliefs, their reason, their laws, their history, and what is in their hearts.

Perhaps the citizens of NY, of the US, will travel to NYC and will picket. And maybe the construction workers will decide not to cross the picket line. But I’m not holding my breath.

- Aggie

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Ground Zero Mosque Will Receive Public Funding

It might receive public funding, the city wants to give it public funding, and if Boston is any indication, it will receive public funding

Background: There is a giant mosque in Boston, recently constructed on land that was given to the mosque leadership in return for almost no money. I am not sure of the details, but I think they paid a couple hundred thousand for land valued at four million. So much for the separation of church and state.

The Muslim center planned near the site of the World Trade Center attack could qualify for tax-free financing, a spokesman for City Comptroller John Liu said on Friday, and Liu is willing to consider approving the public subsidy.

The Democratic comptroller’s spokesman, Scott Sieber, said Liu supported the project. The center has sparked an intense debate over U.S. religious freedoms and the sanctity of the Trade Center site, where nearly 3,000 perished in the September 11, 2001 attack.

“If it turns out to be financially feasible and if they can demonstrate an ability to pay off the bonds and comply with the laws concerning tax-exempt financing, we’d certainly consider it,” Sieber told Reuters.

Spokesmen for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor David Paterson and the Islamic center and were not immediately available.

I am not sure what the legal trick was that allowed taxpayer funds to contribute to building a large mosque in Boston, but it happened. I assume it will happen in NYC too. I wonder if a church or a synagogue could get built with public money?

- Aggie

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