Little Mosque in the Big City

Cidu Bill on Aug 11th 2010

New Yorkers, opportunistic politicians, and the ignorant and intolerant are up in arms over plans to build a multi-story mosque just blocks from the site of the World Trade Center. Well, not a multi-story mosque exactly, more like a community center open to the public (sort of a YMMA), which includes a prayer room, but let’s not let facts get in the way of hysteria.

The two Egyptian men behind the plan say it’s meant as a statement against extremism, to bridge the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims. A Tea Party spokesman calls it a memorial to the 9/11 hijackers.

An upcoming ad campaign, to appear on New York City buses, will demand that the city prohibit the building from being constructed. The ads will show pictures of one of the planes hitting the World Trade Center.

A spokesperson for the group paying for the ads said that being allowed to run the ads is a victory for free speech and tolerance.

A victory for free speech and tolerance.

The sound you hear is George Orwell turning over in his grave.

As an American, this all disgusts me. And it’s stupid as well as wrong, because what we’re telling the Muslim world that we think of every Muslim as our enemy.

As a Jew, the fact that so many Jewish groups are joining the hysteria troubles me. And it’s stupid as well, because traditionally, when a government looks for excuses to single out and discriminate against a religious group, it tends to be the Jews. Letting hysteria decide where Muslims can’t build… is that a precedent we really want to support? Hatred of Muslims is just the flavor of the week: anti-Semitism endures.

Filed in Bill Bickel, Islam, Judaism, Muslims, New York City, discrimination, media, mosques, politics, religion | 83 responses so far

83 Responses to “Little Mosque in the Big City”

  1. paperboy Aug 11th 2010 at 02:55 pm 1

    There IS some hysteria, but why can’t the muslim group show some sympathy and understanding by locating their mosque elsewhere?

  2. Jeff Aug 11th 2010 at 03:01 pm 2

    @paperboy: How much time do you need before they can build anywhere they want? Why not show some sympathy and understanding to the peaceful Muslims (yes, there are some) who want a place of their own, in compliance with local, state and federal laws?

  3. CIDU Bill Aug 11th 2010 at 03:05 pm 3

    paperboy, I agree with you. Presumably they figured the location they chose would make a positive statement about their goal of tolerance, but they didn’t quite think it through.

    Once they did choose the site, though, telling them they can’t build it because they’re Muslims is indefensible.

  4. Jeff S. Aug 11th 2010 at 03:09 pm 4

    Well hell… Why are we even letting them there Muslims even LIVE in the USA? They’s pure evil. You can tell just by looking at them, they’s planning how to kill us worse. Since they’s all on the No Fly list, rent them all boats and make them row back to Muslimland, then pay the USA the rental fees for the boats + late fees, cuz they never get things done on time.

  5. "farmerjoe" Aug 11th 2010 at 03:10 pm 5

    Don’t feed the trolls… don’t feed the trolls….

    I won’t go on about comment #1, because I believe “paperboy” is being a troll, or “devil’s advocate” if you will.

    I do fear for our nation’s future. We all get to look forward to more (and longer) wars, and more terrorism world wide because we can’t keep our crazies from feeding the fire with their crazies.

    Forget the actions of former president G. W. Bush, and the current war(s). Banning a legitimate religiously based community center is the sort of thing that will help terrorists recruit more people.

  6. BroBoCop Aug 11th 2010 at 03:14 pm 6

    I think the fact they now know the emotional effect of building in that location and are determined to do it anyway speaks more to their “goal” than their stated attempt at promoting tolerance. It’s as much a matter of being disrespectful to the victims as their right to build where they choose. Seems to me to be a thumb in the face of the families.

    Remove the religious and racial overtones: if someone chose to build a bar at the intersection where a drunk driver plowed into a school bus full of children, killing them all, I think most citizens would be upset about that. I don’t see the difference.

    My opinion, of course.

  7. Jeff S. Aug 11th 2010 at 03:14 pm 7

    Oh yeah… Sarcasm mode off. Real mode on.

    I absolutely HATE dumb Americans. I heard about this last week or so. It was on the news. I was temporarily (slightly) distressed until I heard the WHOLE story behind it. It reminded me about the headline that was “technically” correct, but completely misleading once you get the facts. The dumb Americans seem to have a knee-jerk reaction to almost everything. The truly scary part is, they can convince more rational people the knee-jerk reactions are right.

    I seriously hope they are allowed to build the YMMA.

  8. Numbat Aug 11th 2010 at 03:15 pm 8

    Anti-Semitism appears to be something which will endure until the end of time unfortunately.

    However, I think that the current antagonism towards Muslims will also continue for the foreseeable future. They have the regrettable media “bonus” of having extremist members who believe violence is necessary to illustrate the truth of their religion. This sad fact gives the media, the powers that be, the warmongers and those who just like to stir up trouble a perfect target to attack as the increased chance of a reaction will justify their self-perceived moral superiority.

  9. Cidu Bill Aug 11th 2010 at 03:21 pm 9

    BroBoCop, how about if somebody wanted to build a bar called Lee Harvey’s just a couple of blocks from Dealy Plaza?

  10. Blinky the Wonder Wombat Aug 11th 2010 at 03:22 pm 10

    It appears to me that the original intent of the group might have been well-intentioned but they didn’t think things through. In hindsight, more coalition-building and PR work before announcing their plans could have gone a long way to prevent the uproar.

    Unfortunately, things have now spiraled so far out of control (mostly by outside groups) that there really is no good solution.

  11. Jeff S. Aug 11th 2010 at 03:26 pm 11

    BroBoCop, so they are just snubbing their noses at NYC and the USA? They initially had good intentions when building the YMMA, but now that there’s a protest, they’ve decided to say, “Screw you guys. The real reason we’re building it there, is because we now know how much it hurts you!”. Is that what you are saying?

  12. Jeff S. Aug 11th 2010 at 03:29 pm 12

    I do believe the citizens would have a right to be upset if the YMMA was being erected by someone actally INVOLVED in the terrorism plot. Or if it was the drunk driver who was the one opening the bar.

  13. "farmerjoe" Aug 11th 2010 at 03:34 pm 13

    Can some one explain to me why the proposed location of this place is so bad?

    I know it’s near / on ground zero. Perhaps that makes their message a little “in your face”, but from what I understand, most of the message is; “Muslims are your peaceful neighbors, don’t hate us because of a crazy minority.”

  14. Tim Aug 11th 2010 at 03:38 pm 14

    What really bugs and worries me the most is how the real radical Muslims, the one’s who really want to kill us all dead, are going to use this as propaganda tool. I guess there was no quiet way to about this but to fan the fire by putting up bus ads just seems too extreme and I really believe that extreme feeds the extreme that it’s trying to fight against.

  15. Bearman Aug 11th 2010 at 03:54 pm 15

    Everyone wants free speech and tolerance….for themselves.

  16. Laura Aug 11th 2010 at 04:19 pm 16

    They’ve been using it as a prayer hall and outreach center for a year, to little fanfare. But renovating the building they’ve been using all along is saying “screw you guys” ? Yeah, I can see why the fuss took them by surprise there.

  17. Paperboy Aug 11th 2010 at 04:25 pm 17

    “farmerjoe”, among the things you don’t understand, one is that you don’t get understanding by deliberately angering the opposition.

  18. DPWally Aug 11th 2010 at 04:36 pm 18

    Every news source I’ve heard, except BBC World Service, has described the mosque as “at ground zero”. It isn’t, it’s on Park Place, 2 blocks away. 2 blocks may not sound like much, especially to non-New Yorkers, but in a dense Manhattan business district it’s a not-insignificant distance.

    It would be more accurate to say the location is in the neighborhood of ground zero.

    That makes all the difference for me. If it was proposed right on ground zero it would feel like a victory monument. In the neighborhood makes it exactly what the proposers want it to be, a community center intended to bridge the gap etc. etc.

  19. DPWally Aug 11th 2010 at 04:39 pm 19

    That said, the mosque’s sponsors better be prepared to watch its visitors for:

    1. Intolerants and anti-Muslim extremists determined to use that center to punish all of Islam for 9/11.

    2. Muslim extremists who want to turn the center into a victory monument.

  20. Heather D Aug 11th 2010 at 04:40 pm 20

    How do the victims (ie, New Yorkers and families of those lost on 9/11) actually feel about this?

    Is it a legitimate case of the VICTIMS feeling that it’s a slap in their face?

    Or is it only the Tea Party nutjobs trying to make this an issue?

    Or perhaps, they successfully made it an issue such that New Yorkers who initially didn’t care, now are getting upset about it after being affected by the Tea Party propaganda?

    I’m legitimately asking for information here, these aren’t rhetorical questions — I honestly don’t know the answers. Living in Canada, this hasn’t been “big news” though of course I’ve heard a fair amount about it… but I haven’t heard that level of detail. Anyone know?

  21. Paperboy Aug 11th 2010 at 04:42 pm 21

    “Hey, U.S.A.; how about a patriarchal, misogynist, intolerant medievel religion?”
    “No, thanks; we already got one.”

  22. Tom Aug 11th 2010 at 05:05 pm 22

    Like a lot of groups, Muslims seem to have fail to distance themselves from their extremists brethren. It just seems to lack a sensitivity to what went on that day. Serious stuff. People died who had no stake in this. We gloss over this. Its not intolerance, its saying, “Hey, you don’t get this, let me spell it out” How else should we verbalize our feelings so no one is upset? Its a big deal.

  23. Tom Aug 11th 2010 at 05:05 pm 23

    ‘have failed’ urg!

  24. Paperboy Aug 11th 2010 at 05:08 pm 24

    It’s not a “religious freedom” issue (no one’s stopping them from praying) but a zoning issue. Neighborhoods can and do make decisions on what goes up. Sometimes bars or re-hab centers are limited. Berkely keeps out all big, bad evil chain-stores. If a majority feel the mosque would adverly affect the neighborhood, they have a say in it.

  25. S.P. Charles Aug 11th 2010 at 05:12 pm 25

    “No houses of worship in this neighborhood” is zoning. “No mosques” is bigotry.

  26. Paperboy Aug 11th 2010 at 05:13 pm 26

    ‘adversely’ & ‘Berkeley’ urg!

  27. Tom Aug 11th 2010 at 05:31 pm 27

    SP- Not the same thing. It was intended to be a healing mechanism. Because the group behind it says that is so. It would appear to be setting up to fail. If a women came between us and I and I said I thought a picture of the women that came between us should work, but you said the picture would cause you too much pain, should I send it no matter how you feel? My intentions are sincere, but your response is the key.

  28. Paperboy Aug 11th 2010 at 05:31 pm 28

    Ah,yes; “Bigotry”, THAT must be it. After all Islam is a religion, and all religions are good.

    “Allah, protect me from your followers”

  29. BetterBanon Aug 11th 2010 at 05:37 pm 29

    @CIDU Bill #9, in 1968, some student at the University of Colorado got together and had their grill renamed to the “Alferd Packer Grill”, a mere 94 years after he may have killed and eaten a few of the men he became snowbound with. Look for Lee Harvey’s to open up in 2057.

  30. Jordan Aug 11th 2010 at 05:38 pm 30

    America used to be like that fun relative that would always show up at family gatherings. He was always the life of the party, showing off his new toys, being entertaining and getting everybody’s spirits up. We’d look at him in awe and say we wanted to be like him. We always loved having him around. He’d even take some gentle teasing over the occasional social blunder.

    But then in 2001 he lost a loved one. We all showed our sympathy and sadness, but something had changed. Now he’s picking fights with anyone who looks at him funny, making horrible bigoted statements like a raging drunk, slipping into periods of melancholy and self-pity, and causing big messes with a careless and sloppy attitude he never used to have.

    We’re all concerned, but he doesn’t want help. He’s a big man and he’s going to handle it all by himself. We just wonder if we’ll wake up one morning and find him dead.

  31. "farmerjoe" Aug 11th 2010 at 05:40 pm 31

    Paperboy is right (in #24) no one is stopping them from praying they can keep their “prayer hall” as long as they keep it run down and out of sight. We can’t have people putting in offices or classrooms. OMFG a BOOKSTORE?! And a 500 seat auditorium!! Holy crap they’ll be making 500 terrorists at a time!

    We should take a lesson from China and imprison anyone who openly practices religion in the wrong place.

  32. Cidu Bill Aug 11th 2010 at 05:43 pm 32

    BetterBanon, I should have been clearer: Lee Harvey’s has been there for sometime now.

  33. S.P. Charles Aug 11th 2010 at 05:45 pm 33

    Tom, I have absolutely no idea what it is you’re tryng to say. Seriously. The words are there, but I can’t parse them into an actual point.

  34. Kilby Aug 11th 2010 at 05:51 pm 34

    I would never give up my citizenship, but American xenophobia and religious intolerance (in all of its ugly shades and differentiations) are significant reasons as to why I am happy to reside elsewhere as an expatriate.

  35. Paperboy Aug 11th 2010 at 05:51 pm 35

    “farmerjoe” has just given us an example of the “Straw Man Argument”. We thank him. Once it was alright now, (farmer joe).

  36. Winter Wallaby Aug 11th 2010 at 05:54 pm 36

    farmerjoe #31: You need to put sarcasm tags around your comments. Your arguments may be ridiculous and bigoted, but no more so than some of the (presumably) serious comments in this thread.

  37. Tom Aug 11th 2010 at 05:55 pm 37

    SP- A little convoluted, I guess.
    It was not intended as a house of worship, but to make a statement and correct a view of the Muslim faith. “The two Egyptian men behind the plan say it’s meant as a statement against extremism, to bridge the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims.” If the statement is not understood or causes pain, does the intent justify how it is perceived?

  38. mitch4 Aug 11th 2010 at 06:07 pm 38

    Good editorial piece [though they wouldn’t label it as such] in The New Yorker by Hendrick Hertzberg on this, at . Also available as audio.

    (Aside to Paperboy: Hey I was just thinking about Laura Nyro.)

  39. S.P. Charles Aug 11th 2010 at 06:11 pm 39

    Tom, I reject the word “justify” because if you do something that’s right, and for the right reasons, the fact that it’s misunderstood by the ignorant and the bigoted reflects badly on them, not you.

    Of course there’s also the matter of how many of the YMMA’s opponants don’t misunderstand at all, but are pretending to misunderstand because this serves their own political or social agendas.

  40. CIDU Bill Aug 11th 2010 at 06:16 pm 40

    Winter, I think this is among the least “ridiculous and bigoted” discussions on this topic you’re likely to find on the Internet.

  41. Lola Aug 11th 2010 at 06:16 pm 41

    Wow. A victory for free speech. (1st amendment - Freedom of speech, press, religion and petition) Which free speech promotes the loss of the right to worship. It’s not even in another group of rights. Tell me folks, is that irony or not. I can never tell.

  42. src666 Aug 11th 2010 at 06:20 pm 42

    One thing most people don’t understand is that this building, while close to the site, is not _visible_ from the site. It’s not on a street that is visible from the site. It’s in the middle of a block, with several taller buildings between it and the site. Even if the WTC were reconstructed, it is unlikely you would be able more than a fragment of the roof from the top.

    This is nothing more than hatred institutionalized in the name of politics. Business as usual.

  43. George P Aug 11th 2010 at 06:27 pm 43

    “If the statement is not understood or causes pain, does the intent justify how it is perceived?”

    If ignorant people think campaigning for a candidate they don’t like is making us a “communist” country, should one drop the campaign?

    If perception flies in the face of fact, then, no, perception shouldn’t drive decisions.

  44. James Schend Aug 11th 2010 at 06:31 pm 44

    @Heather (#20): Dozens of the 9/11 victims were Muslim:

    You’ll notice how the pundits opposing this mosque “on behalf of the victims” never seem to mention that little detail.

  45. James Schend Aug 11th 2010 at 06:36 pm 45

    BTW, that’s also why the “victory monument” assertion is so ridiculous to me. There were more Muslim victims than their were Muslim attackers… if anything, it would be seen as an (appropriate) tribute to the victims.

    I think it says something about the US media that people have this strict “us vs. them” mentality: assuming that all 9/11 victims must have been Christians, because all 9/11 attackers were Muslim. Does that make any sense? Where does it come from?

  46. Winter Wallaby Aug 11th 2010 at 06:38 pm 46

    Bill #40: Yeah, definitely true.

  47. Cidu Bill Aug 11th 2010 at 06:46 pm 47

    James, since every Muslim in the world is equally responsible, then the Muslims who died in the buildings were just as responsible as the hijackers and therefore shouldn’t be commemmorated as victims. At least when the Israeli government found out about the attacks ahread of time, they managed to warn every Jew who worked in teh buildings to stay home that day.

    At least that’s what I’ve heard.

    Oh, and FDR also knew the World Trade Center was going to be attacked, but he let it happen.

  48. Mark M Aug 11th 2010 at 07:04 pm 48

    Just curious, who is this “Tea Party spokesman”? Because, I wasn’t aware they had spokesmen.

    It’s hard for me to say if it should be built or not. I have a cousin who lives in Manhatten just miles from Ground Zero and he has not there since that day because it’s just too difficult for him to handle. I say if New Yorkers don’t have a problem with it, then fine. If they want to protest it, that’s their right too.

  49. turquoise cow Aug 11th 2010 at 07:30 pm 49

    Last I had heard on this topic, Mayor Bloomberg was not opposed to the building and made a speech declaring that it should be allowed to be built. I don’t know if it still has to go through city council or whatnot, but I would think that the mayor’s support is a big plus on the side of the organizers.

    The issue is that many people are still associating 9/11 with Muslims, and while it’s true that the attackers were Muslim, it’s not true that all Muslims supported this action, had anything to do with it, or knew it would happen in advance. There have been acts of terrorism and violence committed by Christians, and you don’t see anyone protesting churches being built in the vicinity, because everyone knows that just because one crazy/violent person was Christian doesn’t mean every Christian is crazy or violent. Anyone who says that protesting the building of a mosque is NOT a bigoted argument is just plain wrong. Unless the builders/organizers are/were directly involved with the people who planned or executed 9/11, the only similarity they share is religion. And that’s discrimination.

  50. Frankie Darro Aug 11th 2010 at 07:52 pm 50

    @Tom - so this is really just an issue of sensitivity to the feelings of the survivors of 9/11? If they would just move the “Mosque” to a more politically neutral location, everyone wins? How far away is enough? Temecula California is about as far away geographically and culturally as one can get from New York City. The Muslim community has been there for years meeting in a warehouse. Now they want to build a Mosque. (click on my name for the story). Similar things are also happening in Tennessee and Connecticut. The opponents are all spewing the same drivel as Newt Gingrich has about the New York Mosque.

  51. Mark in Boston Aug 11th 2010 at 07:55 pm 51

    Is EVERYTHING a statement? If you go to a rally you’re making an unpleasant statement; if you don’t go to the rally you’re making an unpleasant statement. “Why do you hate Muslims so much? What, you don’t? Why do you hate America?”

    Apropos of nothing, I wish I had a nickel for every time a politician said, “America was founded on Christian princi … JUDEO-Christian principles!”

  52. Ian Osmond Aug 11th 2010 at 08:48 pm 52

    People say we have to be sensitive to the families of the 9/11 victims.


    The families of the 9/11 victims who I know are really pissed off at the bigots who are trying to make them look bad.

    The families of the Muslim victims who were killed also deserve a nearby place to pray, don’t they?

    I, for one, can’t even imagine why this is even an issue. Islam didn’t fly any planes into the Word Trade Centers. Rather, a group of people who were following a crazy guy did it.

    Muslims had no beef with the United States. But certain groups who happened to be within the Muslim world therefore used Islam-based rhetoric, the way that American hate groups tend to use Christian-based rhetoric. Doesn’t make American hate groups Christian, doesn’t make al Qaeda Muslim.

    Of course, if we start discriminating against Muslims, by, for instance, making a huge national deal out of this, THEN Muslims WILL have a beef — a legitimate one — with America.

  53. Ian Osmond Aug 11th 2010 at 08:50 pm 53

    Mark in Boston — every time I hear the phrase “Judeo-Christian principles,” especially in this anti-Islam context, I want to ask the speaker to name ONE principle that is shared by Judaism and Christianity, but not Islam.

    Just one.

    I can think of LOTS of principles that are shared by Islam and Christianity, but not Judaism; I can think of some principles that are shared by Judaism and Islam, but not Christianity. I can’t think of ANY that are shared by Judaism and Christianity, but not Islam.

  54. Tim Aug 11th 2010 at 08:58 pm 54

    I don’t know that anybody said they CAN’T build on that location. All I’ve heard is that any supposed attempt to bridge the gap between Muslim and non-Muslim peacefully isn’t going to work - it’s going to cause more hurt feelings than it will heal.

    @Ian #53,
    Judaism and Christianity teach love for one’s neighbor and the universal brotherhood of man. Islam teaches love toward other Muslims, but nothing is commanded of love toward non-Muslims.

  55. BroBoCop Aug 11th 2010 at 09:12 pm 55

    Y’all are some angry, angry people.

  56. Igelino Aug 11th 2010 at 09:12 pm 56

    Dunno whether this made it across the Atlantic, but the mosque in Hamburg where several of the 911 hijackers met was closed recently. A little bit surprising for a country that has strict laws against religious bigotry.

    Agree definitely with Kilby, nice to be out of the line of sight of the extremists, and I mean the ones that want to get rid of a place that’s been around for a year without a fuss. That mosque was in the news a while back, and survived the pressure. Why suddenly now the extra resistance? Is it really because of renovations? And I agree, in New York, a couple of blocks qualifies as “in the neighborhood”, especially in midwestern terms. I really don’t see anything particularly insensitive about the placement.

  57. Cidu Bill Aug 11th 2010 at 09:22 pm 57

    And just for the record, a nominee for the Most Convoluted Headline of the Year: The dispute over the “Ground Zero mosque” is an object lesson in how not to resist intolerance. I couldn’t even guess what he was getting at based on the headline and truthfully, not the most coherent article I’ve ever read either…

  58. Igelino Aug 11th 2010 at 09:24 pm 58

    Em, Tim @54, not sure what you mean by “love for one’s neighbor and the universal brotherhood of man”, but one of the basic values of Islam is compassion, which seems to fit “love” and “brotherhood.”

    Compassion in Islam is a value that applies to humanity. Not just to Muslims.

    Please don’t be fooled by the extremists. I won’t argue Islam with you, but your example isn’t valid.

  59. felixthecat Aug 11th 2010 at 09:38 pm 59

    I don’t know but that Tim may be right. The “Golden Rule” is hard to find in the Quran:

    (48:29): “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah; and those who are with him are strong against Unbelievers, (but) compassionate amongst each other.”

    The Quran tells Muslims to “slay the unbelievers wherever they find them” (2:191), “do not befriend them” (3:28), and “fight them and show them harshness”.

    Compassion in Islam is reserved only for Muslims, no one else.

    A trait or two that Christianity and Judaism share: a belief in an afterlife that brings them close to God. IN Islam, like the old Norse religion, the afterlife is a place of self-indulgence.

    In Islam, when a Muslim rapes a Jew or a Christian, the child is a Muslim. In Judaism, the child would be Jewish. In Christianity, the child would be whatever it is raised as.

    That being said, there is no legal reason the mosque or community center should not be built as long as it meets code. Whether or not the owner is sympathetic to extremists, or if the Saudis will be covering some of the expenses, is not technically relevant.

  60. David A. Rooney Aug 11th 2010 at 09:49 pm 60

    It’s a sad thing that I can get more detail and accuracy about such situations by watching John Stewart on The Daily Show (and from CIDU) than from the evening news.

    I’m starting a new political party - Aspergers of America. Those of us with high-functioning Autism tend to be extremely honest (we learn early on that we’re terrible at lying and give it up as too stressful), and we tend to make decisions based on facts, and not what’s most popular (having never BEEN popular ourselves we don’t know what that’s like anyway).

    I’m hoping to get enough of us elected to office that our government will finally start making real, rational decisions about things like this.

    Yes, a Muslim mosque is a symbol that some lunatics have usurped to justify their criminal actions.

    But the majority of people of all religions around the world are peaceful and law-abiding because most people recognize the value of peaceful coexistance.

    Let them renovate and build their cultural center. If they are true to their stated intent, they will provide English translations of the Qur’an for visitors to study (though not to be used for prayer). Compare it to the King James bible and you’ll see they’re not that different.

    Or announce that if the Muslims can’t renovate, then you’re going to begin revoking tax-exempt status for all religious properties and see what that gets you. Either a huge influx of much needed cash, or instant tolerance.

  61. Igelino Aug 11th 2010 at 09:52 pm 61

    Felix, Jews and Christians are considered believers in Islam.

  62. Nicole Aug 11th 2010 at 09:56 pm 62

    I have to admit I haven’t read all the posts, so there is a chance someone has already made this point.

    I think think it is this simple …. would you allow a church to be built on the same spot ? If so, then the community center/mosque gets to be built there … the first amendment says so.

  63. Igelino Aug 11th 2010 at 10:30 pm 63

    “Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loves not transgressors. And slay them wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter… But if they cease, God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful… If they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression” (2:190-193)

    Commentators say that this surah is in the context of a defensive battle.

    The other two 48:29 and 3:28 have comparable examples in the new testament, like Galatians 1:8-9 “8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!”

    The Old Testament is also socially hard on people who don’t believe in the one god.

    I’m just saying, is this really THAT different from Christianity or Judaism?

  64. Igelino Aug 11th 2010 at 10:45 pm 64

    Boh, I shut my stupid server down, and was going to bed, and couldn’t get this out of my head.

    I’m so stupid sometimes. This isn’t about the validity of one or another religion. Nicole is absolutely right, we don’t judge their validity, we allow them all. Duh.

  65. Jenn Aug 11th 2010 at 11:09 pm 65

    One element of this issue that I find disturbing is that opponents of the mosque/community center argue that it is too close to Ground Zero. Aside from the whole “freedom of worship” issue negating any reason for the center to not be built, who gets to decide what is too close? Is three blocks away better? Is there an invisible barrier around Ground Zero that ends at a specific distance? I fear many of these opponents would say that anywhere in New York (or the United States, for that matter) is too close.
    Out here in California, there’s a pastor (a pastor!) who is protesting a mosque being built across the street from his church, because he doesn’t want it attracting “extremist types.” Now there’s the pot calling the kettle black.

  66. sjelly Aug 12th 2010 at 12:45 am 66

    The Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem is to be built on a Muslim cemetery. The “sacred ground” of “Ground Zero” housed buildings devoted to commerce (didn’t Jesus throw the moneylenders out of the temple?) Many people who were not U.S. citizens or Christians lost their lives there. There are churches, liquor stores, bars, myriad other businesses there already. The buildings that are going up on the actual site will be doing business on this “sacred site.” No, of course not, there’s no bigotry involved in trying to stop this community center, wait I mean MOSQUE (insert horror music here).

  67. Czhorat Aug 12th 2010 at 05:37 am 67

    I’m watching a nitwit on CNN say that Islam is “a lie from the pit of hell” and Muslims can not be good citizens because they “swear their allegiance to Allah”.

    Turqois Cow is right that our Mayor (Michael Bloomberg) has spoken strongly in favor of the right to build the center and went so far as to call the protests un-American as they violate what he sees as best in our ideals.

    I’m a New Yorker, work in Manhattan, and even had a very small, off-site role in the post 9/11 recovery of telecommunications networks to get the Stock Exchange running again the following Monday. I’m also a free-thinking atheist who sees all religions as the same and a little bit silly. I see no reason to not build the thing.

  68. Carl Aug 12th 2010 at 06:23 am 68

    One point I don’t think has been mentioned: the organizers of the community centers are Sufis. Sufism is the most peaceful and tolerant branch of Islam I’m aware of. And the Wahhabis would probably slaughter them all, if they could, as heretics.

  69. George P Aug 12th 2010 at 06:25 am 69

    Maybe we should also ban Christian churches in the neighborhood of any funeral attended by the Westboro Baptist Church. Surely the idea of Christians meeting in the area is offensive to the family members.

    And, seriously, I’m sure Fred Phelps represents the feelings of far more American Christians than the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center do of American Muslims.

  70. Ian Osmond Aug 12th 2010 at 07:28 am 70

    Tim #54 and Felixthecat #59: Speaking as a Hebrew school teacher: Judaism doesn’t teach universal love, either.

    Universal justice, sure. We believe that we have to create societies in which all people have access to law and justice. But we have no responsibility to love strangers. We have to treat them fairly.

    And, looking at Christianity throughout history, I’m not convinced that that’s a universal Christian teaching, either. People like St Francis of Assisi taught such things, but the entire basis of every Crusade is based on Christian teachings that state that rights only belong to Christians and not Muslims or Jews. That’s part of Christian history, too, and far more so than Muslim history. Looking at the Caliphate, the Caliphate wanted to create a Muslim-dominated society in which the rights of minorities remained protected. Looking at the Crusades, the Crusaders wanted to create a Christian-dominated society in which non-Christians were eliminated.

    We Jews remember. We remember that, in Muslim Spain, we were valuable, integral parts of society. In Christian Spain, we were kicked out, or forced to convert, then tortured by the Spanish Inquisition.

    Looking at history, we discover that, if this comes down to a Christian-vs-Muslim showdown, everybody who’s not Christian or Muslim will do better if the Muslims win.

    If we maintain a secular society, everybody will do better still, INCLUDING Christians — Christianity tends to suffer in Christian societies, and flourish in secular ones.

  71. Nicole Aug 12th 2010 at 07:55 am 71

    I’m with Czhorat @ 67

    All religions are pretty silly to me.

    I think in general the money religions use to build monuments to the dieties they believe could be far better spent, and none of them should be built. As Sarah Silverman once said ’sell the Vatican, feed the world”

  72. Steve Aug 12th 2010 at 10:29 am 72

    To all who don’t like the fact that it’s two blocks away from Ground Zero — how far would be acceptable? Especially considering it won’t be visible from GZ. Would you prefer it be built across the East or Hudson River, further away but more visible from GZ?

  73. Chennette Aug 12th 2010 at 11:56 am 73

    @felixthecat #59 - not sure where you get your info. ALL children are considered to be Muslims in Islam regardless of how they were conceived or to whom they are born. If children are raised in another religion, only after they enter puberty they are considered THEN to be part of that religion.
    Bringing rape into the discussion seems purely for inflammatory purposes.

  74. Morris Keesan Aug 12th 2010 at 01:21 pm 74

    felixthecat #59, belief in an afterlife is something that Christianity and Islam share, but not Judaism.
    No afterlife, not one that “brings us closer to God” or any other kind. After we’re gone, we live on in the
    effects of the deeds we did while we were alive, and in the memories of those who knew us. That’s one
    reason for the Ashkenazic custom of naming children after deceased family members.

    And similar to your cited passages from the Koran [ (2:191) and (3:28)] is the commandment to stone
    those who come to us and ask us to follow false gods. I don’t recall where in Torah this is; probably in
    Exodus or Leviticus. I’ve been tempted to quote this to people who come to my door trying to convert
    me to their religions.

    Finally, in response to CIDU Bill’s initial comments: Yes, the ads against the mosque are disgusting, but as a card-carrying ACLU member, I have to agree with the spokesperson for the group who wants to run the ads. Allowing the ads is a victory for free speech and tolerance. Freedom of speech is meaningless if we don’t extend that freedom to speech that disgusts us, and tolerance including tolerating others’ disgusting opinions that we disagree with.

  75. Czhorat Aug 12th 2010 at 01:38 pm 75

    @Morris (74)

    A victory for free speech, perhaps. Tolerance? I have trouble accepting that allowing someone to make a stupid, bigotted statement is advancing the cause of tolerance.

    It’s a victory for free speech bit, sadly, also a victory for bigotry.

  76. Woodrowfan Aug 12th 2010 at 02:30 pm 76

    just to add to the crazy, the person behind these bus ads argued, quite seriously, that Malcolm X was President Obama’s REAL biological father….

    Part of the problem I suspect is that when people hear “mosque” they’re thinking towers, minarets, Imans calling prayers at dusk, etc. In reality it’s more like a YMCA with a space for worship inside. There is already a mosque nearby, along with a strip club, several gay bars, several Christian churches of various types., etc, etc….

  77. Cidu Bill Aug 12th 2010 at 05:52 pm 77

    Good point, Morris. Of course, if the group running these offensive ads justify them on First Amendment grounds, they’ll be hard pressed to say the YMMA shouldn’t be built because its presence might offend people.

  78. Cidu Bill Aug 12th 2010 at 05:57 pm 78

    Woodrowfan, I bet she somehow also believes that Obama was born in Kenya.

    Apparently it’s not difficult to believe two conflicting theories at once: many of the same people who claimed that Obama was in thrall to Reverend Wright also believed Obama was a Muslim.

  79. Kay Shawn Aug 12th 2010 at 08:52 pm 79

    The NYTimes ran an article going through the origin of the Mosque community center project, begun before 9/11, and it has been a series of misunderstandings and lost opportunities on all sides. Those who are even a little against its location have no idea what being American is about.

  80. Detcord Aug 13th 2010 at 10:24 am 80

    Until recently, my information on this topic has been second or third hand. As such, I was vaguely opposed to a, “victory mosque at Ground Zero”, but was reserving judgement until I knew more. Then I encountered this comment piece in a London paper I read occasionally. I suppose this might qualify as a case of serendipity CIDU-style.

    Assuming the article is reasonably accurate, I am hard-pressed to see a problem with this proposal. Maybe I am naive, but this development offer seems to be a “hand across the aisle” from that portion of the Muslim community that wishes, for want of a better phrase, “to heal the breach” and do something useful for the city. I cannot, for the life of me, see anything wrong with that - though I do see much wrong with those saying “NO”.

  81. Morris Keesan Aug 13th 2010 at 11:58 am 81

    Bill (#77), you’re asking for consistency and logic from these folks, which is expecting at least a little bit too much.

    What bothers me the most in this whole affair is the ADL’s position.

  82. Nicole Aug 13th 2010 at 01:33 pm 82

    Once again John Stewart points out just what silly little people some Americans are

  83. paperboy Aug 13th 2010 at 04:12 pm 83

    “Those that stick their heads in the sand are in perfect position to be f***ed in the arse”
    Winston Churchill

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