Advertisement
This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 3 °C Saturday 14 December, 2019

#9/11 Mosque

# 911-mosque - Monday 23 August, 2010

DEMONSTRATORS protesting against the proposed construction of a community centre that would include a mosque two blocks from the former site of the World Trade Centre have rounded on a black passer-by assuming him to be a supporter of the project.

This YouTube footage shows a black man passing by the site of a protest before being accosted by some of the demonstrators, while they shouted, ‘No Mosque Here’.

The unidentified man is later seen to attest: “[They] assumed I was an enemy of some sort. They didn’t ask my opinion, they didn’t ask who I was. I want no toruble, wanted no trouble.”

The man then confirmed he was not Muslim, but seemed to be on the verge of declaring his support for the project before being asked to move along as policemen tried to disperse the crowd.

HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE in New York took part in protests both for and against the construction of the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” in Manhattan.

A heavy police presence kept the two groups apart, as one side chanted “No mosque, no way” and the other side shouted “Say no to racist fear”, according to BBC reports.

Proposed plans

The proposals to build an Islamic cultural centre two block from the site of the September 11th attacks in 2001 has inspired an emotional debate across the USA.

Critics complain that the plans are insensitive to the families of those killed in the Islamist attack, and the centre should not so close to where thousands of people were murdered. However, supporter point out that many Muslims also died in the terrorist attack and that religious tolerance is vital.

Cordoba House

It is a misnomer to refer to the proposed building as a mosque, it is in fact 13-storey Islamic community centre named Cordoba House that will contain two prayer rooms. Inside there would be a basketball court, restaurant, and swimming pool.

The centre would be open to people of all religions, having the expressed aim of improving interfaith dialogue. The building will not feature a dome or minaret.

Political agendas?

Some have criticised the behaviour of politicians over their behaviour on the issue. With elections coming up in November, some believe the sensitive issue is being exploited to curry favour with voters.

Critics have questioned Republican Sarah Palin’s assertion that the suggested project is to be built on “hallowed ground”, pointing out that other establishments in the area include bars, strip clubs and a McDonald’s.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama has entered the fray, stating that he believes the centre should get the go ahead. The move has been widely received in a negative light.

Last week, the Pew Research Centre released statistics that revealed 18% of Americans mistakenly believe that Obama is a Muslim.

# 911-mosque - Thursday 19 August, 2010

THERE ARE TWO GENERAL schools of thought regarding the plans to open a mosque in a building two blocks away from the former site of the World Trade Centre.

There are those who still feel the traumas of the September 11 terrorist attacks. They say that the idea of opening a place of devotion to Islam – the same faith whose fundamentalist adherents were responsible for 2,976 civilian deaths – is an affront to those who lost their lives, or their loves, on 9/11.

Then there are those, including President Obama, who say that the United States itself is founded on pluralism: the idea that a single society can exist in spite of – and can indeed defend – a multitude of faiths and belief systems.

In between, however, there is a third group: the Muslim community of Manhattan that simply asks for a place to pray.

An unpopular population

“You know how many Muslims are in this area?,” asks Saad Madaha from Ghana, who prays in a mosque only four blocks from Ground Zero, in a basement beneath a nightclub.

“I would like to see a mosque that looks more like a mosque. I would like to go and pray and have full concentration in my prayers and not have music bashing me in my head.”

Madaha, in that case, is presumably not all that impressed with the plans for the proposed Corboda Centre, which will occupy a disused coat factory on Park Place. The glass-and-steel tower will not look much like a mosque at all: in fact, it won’t even have a crescent moon on its roof.

Some of his fellow Muslims, however, can understand why Governor David Paterson, among others, wants to move the new place of worship to a location with slightly less emotional baggage.

[caption id="attachment_12974" align="alignnone" width="544" caption="Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is the man behind the 'Cordoba House Initiative' that has drawn such controversy. Photo: Craig Ruttle/AP"]Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is the man behind the 'Cordoba House Initiative' that has drawn such controversy. Photo: Craig Ruttle/AP[/caption]

“We need mosques, but anywhere but Ground Zero. It’s going to be a problem all the time,” said Sheikh Hossein, 42, from Bangladesh. ”We want to pray peacefully. I don’t want to pray and fight somebody else over the location.

“If this mosque is built here, every time there is terrorism, they are going to blame us.”

But while Hossein’s logic is also sound, Madaha say relocation would be an insult, saying an victory won by the mosque’s opponents would be “a slap on religion”.

A central focal point for a dispersed community

Another factor that muddies the waters is the fact that many New York Muslims simply don’t have the time or habit of worshipping in their own neighbourhoods, and are required to fit their prayer around their working schedules.

A downtown site in Manhattan suits their needs, therefore, because it’s well serviced by public transport and is in the heart of the financial district that employs so many Muslims.

Obama says he has “no regrets” about taking a controversial stance on the project, which has threatened to become a major issue in November’s mid-term elections which could see his Democratic party lose control of Congress to the Republicans.

Before that, however, there is a more pressing issue: the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and a protest arranged for that date, part-organised and to be attended by the families of people killed at the World Trade Centre.

The Muslim community – who will also hold an event of some sort, with the details yet to be discussed – is worried that the event may turn violent, particularly with the anniversary coming at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

But it seems that no matter what the outcome, there is no way to please everyone. If the mosque is opened, it will almost certainly become a target for sectarian hatred; Obama will face dissent in November’s polls and beyond, and even some of its worshippers will not appreciate the ‘un-Mosque-ish’ look of the building.

If it does not happen, then the Islamic community of New York and beyond will have reason to feel marginalised and victimised in revenge for attacks they condemn and had no part to play in.

Proof, perhaps, that the work of the terrorists has been successful in removing a little of the freedom from the Land of the Free.

# 911-mosque - Saturday 14 August, 2010

US PRESIDENT BARACK Obama has said he supports allowing a mosque to be built near the Ground Zero site in downtown New York city. Obama was speaking at an annual White House dinner marking the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The president had not previously spoken on the issue, nor had the White House made any statement regarding its position on the mosque.

However, speaking last night, Obama said America’s commitment to freedom of religion was integral to the nation:

As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country.


His comments were welcomed by NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, but criticised by other New Yorkers who say that the president “is wrong.”

Over 2,750 people were killed when two planes struck the ‘Twin Towers’ – the World Trade Centre – in lower Manhattan on 11 September, 2001. Plans to construct a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks have drawn intense criticism in the US.

Mark Williams, a prominent member of the conservative anti-Obama Tea Party movement in the US, said:

The monument would consist of a Mosque for the worship of the terrorists’ monkey-god (repeat: “the terrorists’ monkey-god.” if you feel that fits a description of Allah then that is your own deep-seated emotional baggage not mine, talk to the terrorists who use Allah as their excuse and the Muslims who apologize for and rationalize them) and a “cultural center” to propagandize for the extermination of all things not approved by their cult.

The Tea Party said the comment was expressed by Williams personally, and not by the movement. The Washington Post attempts to debunk some of the misconceptions surrounding the mosque here.

Meanwhile, Muslim groups in the US have expressed concerns for their safety as the end Ramadan coincides with the 9/11 anniversary.

# 911-mosque - Wednesday 4 August, 2010

NEW YORK’S Landmarks Preservation Commission has given the green light to plans to build a multi-storey mosque just around the corner from the site of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre.

Opponents of the building believed the $100m mosque – which will stand over 13 storeys – was an insensitive monument to the deaths of almost 3,000 people killed when two planes flew into the ‘twin towers’ of the centre.

But the mosque was approved after the city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, said that Muslim religious freedom had to be respected.

The mayor had been opposed by fellow Republicans Newt Gingrich, who labelled it an “act of triumphalism”, and Sarah Palin who called it “a stab in the heart of the families of the innocent victims” of September 11.

Opponents had appealed to the Commission to declare the site a landmark so as to protect it from non-municipal use, but it voted unanimously that the building – a disused former coat factory – was not considered important enough to merit the status.

Backers of the scheme, however, believe it would help to promote tolerance and that the Cordoba House mosque would ultimately become a symbol of good inter-faith relations within America.

The commission’s hearings had seen significant public protests, with protestors holding signs that claimed Islam “builds mosques at the sites of their conquests and victories” and “Don’t glorify murders of 3,000 – no 9/11 victory mosque”.

The developer behind the project welcomed the ruling and said the mosque would be similar to the famous 92nd Street Y, a mainly Jewish organisation open to all regardless of their religion.