A mosque in Manhattan
Now that it has got the final go-ahead, strange noises have started yet again: Why a mosque, why not a tikka masala joint? Oh, ok, but something like that.
I am reproducing what I wrote on December 10, 2009 in Ground Zero's New Heroes fully because it is likely to escalate into another 'Islamic' battle and subsequent to my writing it I did meet a couple of New York Muslims whose views echo mine.
Here it is:
Some might see it as a great move. I think it is one more sissy attempt at tolerance and reaching out. Religion is the culprit.
There is the World Trade Centre and two blocks away is the Burlington Coat factory. On 9/11, one of the planes crashed through two of its empty floors. For eight years it lay deserted. Things are different now. As the New York Times reported:
“But for months now, out of the public eye, an iron gate rises every Friday afternoon, and with the outside rumblings of construction at ground zero as a backdrop, hundreds of Muslims crowd inside, facing Mecca in prayer and listening to their imam read in Arabic from the Koran.”
I would truly like to take some quotes from the New York Times to display just how puppy sweet can be bone-chewing wicked. Look at the catch phrases: out of the public eye, hundreds of Muslims crowd inside, facing Mecca in prayer, listening to their imam, read in Arabic from the Koran.
Of course, they will face Mecca and the Koran is written in Arabic and hey, dude, you can’t get an investment banker to preach and if he does in his spare time, he would be in his capacity as imam. I thought the NYT would know.
Apparently, this Friday ritual has a greater vision for
“an Islamic center near the city’s most hallowed piece of land that would stand as one of ground zero’s more unexpected and striking neighbors”
Most hallowed? And why is it unexpected to have a Muslim centre in the neighbourhood? The answer regarding the proximity “where a piece of the wreckage fell” comes from Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the cleric leading the project, when he says it
“sends the opposite statement to what happened on 9/11. We want to push back against the extremists”
These clerics ought to realise that in their enthusiasm to work up this pusillanimous business of peace they are further giving credence to stereotypes. What was the statement of 9/11 that can have an opposite one? Terrorists also pray and take the name of god, whichever stripe they are of. How can they push back terrorism?
The idea is as sick as those selling bits of wreckage soon after. It is sick to use a space as a statement. It is frightening that people of religion force those who practise their faith privately to become answerable to society even as citizens.
Acknowledging the possibility of a backlash from those opposed to a Muslim presence at ground zero, Joan Brown Campbell, director of the department of religion at the Chautauqua Institution and former general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ USA, said:
“Building so close is owning the tragedy. It’s a way of saying: ‘This is something done by people who call themselves Muslims. We want to be here to repair the breach, as the Bible says.’ ”
Oh dear. What does this mean? Why should New York Muslims who probably lead regular lives have to own up to a tragedy? Far worse is her quoting from the Bible and making the differences more palpable, a ‘you show me yours, I’ll show you mine’ kind of juvenile attempt at religious one-upmanship.
A few years ago when Benjamin Matthew Williams killed a gay couple outside a town in California he used the Bible as his inspiration:
“I’m not guilty of murder, I’m guilty of obeying the laws of the creator.”
The proposed centre is basing itself on a Jewish centre, and they want an interfaith dialogue. It is supposed to convey that these Muslims are willing to play ball with anyone who’s able. This rubbish about cultural give and take just does not work. What is cultural about people getting together under one roof and praying and everyone commenting about how they face Mecca and learn Arabic? Culture is what you do and not which holy book you read.
This is fairly prime real estate and the Centre might end up making quite a bit of money by getting brainwashed devotees to pay up and own up the tragedy and feel good about being, well, good. Sharif El-Gamal, chairman and chief executive of Soho Properties, of course, says:
“What happened that day was not Islam.”
So? Why does it have to be stated everytime? Almost 3000 people were killed by a handful. There is absolutely no reason to be on a permanent guilt trip.
Chances of this place becoming one to avoid are high or one that will be seen as another zoo where wild animals look kind of sweet behind those cages.