Mosque near Ground Zero – To be or not to be!

The whole idea to build an Islamic cultural center, which includes a mosque, two blocks away from the gaping Ground Zero hole where the Twin Towers were destroyed on September 11, 2001 was pregnant with controversies.

There was the comedy of errors and there is a comedy of speeches.

Paradoxes make life confusing, interesting and challenging. The whole idea to build an Islamic cultural center, which includes a mosque, two blocks away from the gaping Ground Zero hole where the Twin Towers were destroyed on September 11, 2001 was pregnant with controversies.

The planners of the anticipated edifice were not naïve to know that. They have put a President whose popularity is fast plummeting into a quagmire from which it is becoming difficult for him to extricate himself.

His equivocation to form a firm opinion is putting him in an unenviable situation. The land might have legally belonged to the Islamic Society but there were plenty of other places where they could have put up their place of worship. However, allowing to build an Islamic centre at the place of the Twin Towers is politically correct as the following argument reveals:

President Obama said at an Iftar party: “Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”

For many Americans a mosque at ground zero is adding insult to injury for the victims of 9/11 and their thousands of loved ones. No amount of placating the Muslim community will ever change their Jihadi attitude, they believe.

The proposed mosque and Islamic centre at the ground zero (sorrow for thousands) can only symbolize victory for terrorism which America is supposed to be fighting at the cost of billions of dollars belonging to its tax payers.

The writer feels some meat in this argument. However, Senator Jack Reed said on a news channel said : “Troops in Afghanistan are being asked to find common ground with Muslims. If you can’t do that here in United States, we’re going to have a very difficult time over there.” There is no reason to accept that this is also a reasonable argument.

But, here again, we have Senator Peter King speaking on another channel: “The issue is not that there is a legal right to build the mosque but that those involved should listen to public opinion, which he said is strongly opposed to the project.” Of course he has a valid point also.

To conclude the debate Senator Jerold Nadler whose district includes Ground Zero, made a mince meat of all that talks of public opinion. According to him : “There is a fundamental mistake behind the thinking of those opposed to the project. The fallacy is that Al-Qaida attacked us. Islam did not attack us.”

Lesser mortal like this scribe should be forgiven for failing to form any opinion as the poor President of United States failed and made a U turn following public outrage, especially from families of 9/11 victims.

Obama changed the gear and clarified that he was not addressing the appropriateness of the mosque’s particular location. “I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about.”

But after a New York city commission on August 3 unanimously approved the plans, the President came out to support the right to build the mosque.

“This is America,” Obama had said, “and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are.”

We’re living in very interesting times. We have comic situations in politics and in real life all over the world. India is no exception. Politicians have to engage in a perennial struggle to balance the political correctness against public demand.

Naim Naqvi

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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