One Muslim's view of the proposed "Ground Zero" Mosque

Kelly - posted on 08/09/2010 ( 33 moms have responded )

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A Muslim victim of 9/11: 'Build your mosque somewhere else'
By Neda Bolourchi
Sunday, August 8, 2010

I have no grave site to visit, no place to bring my mother her favorite yellow flowers, no spot where I can hold my weary heart close to her. All I have is Ground Zero.

On the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, I watched as terrorists slammed United Flight 175 into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, 18 minutes after their accomplices on another hijacked plane hit the North Tower. My mother was on the flight. I witnessed her murder on live television. I still cannot fully comprehend those images. In that moment, I died as well. I carry a hole in my heart that will never be filled.

From the first memorial ceremonies I attended at Ground Zero, I have always been moved by the site; it means something to be close to where my mother may be buried, it brings some peace. That is why the prospect of a mosque near Ground Zero -- or a church or a synagogue or any religious or nationalistic monument or symbol -- troubles me.

I was born in pre-revolutionary Iran. My family led a largely secular existence -- I did not attend a religious school, I never wore a headscarf -- but for us, as for anyone there, Islam was part of our heritage, our culture, our entire lives. Though I have nothing but contempt for the fanaticism that propelled the terrorists to carry out their murderous attacks on Sept. 11, I still have great respect for the faith. Yet, I worry that the construction of the Cordoba House Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center site would not promote tolerance or understanding; I fear it would become a symbol of victory for militant Muslims around the world.

When I am asked about the people who murdered my mother, I try to hold back my anger. I try to have a more spiritual perspective. I tell myself that perhaps what happened was meant to happen -- that it was my mother's destiny to perish this way. I try to take solace in the notion that her death has forced a much-needed conversation and reevaluation of the role of religion in the Muslim community, of the duties and obligations that the faith imposes and of its impact on the non-Muslim world.

But a mosque near Ground Zero will not move this conversation forward. There were many mosques in the United States before Sept. 11; their mere existence did not bring cross-cultural understanding. The proposed center in New York may be heralded as a peace offering -- may genuinely seek to focus on "promoting integration, tolerance of difference and community cohesion through arts and culture," as its Web site declares -- but I fear that over time, it will cultivate a fundamentalist version of the Muslim faith, embracing those who share such beliefs and hating those who do not.

The Sept. 11 attacks were the product of a hateful ideology that the perpetrators were willing to die for. They believed that all non-Muslims are infidels and that the duty of Muslims is to renounce them. I am not a theologian, but I know that the men who killed my mother carried this message in their hearts and minds. Obedient and dutiful soldiers, they marched toward their promised rewards in heaven with utter disregard for the value of the human beings they killed.

I know Ground Zero is not mine alone; I must share this sanctuary with tourists, politicians, anyone who chooses to come, whatever their motivations or intentions. But a mosque nearby -- even a proposed one -- is already transforming the site from a sacred ground for reflection, so desperately needed by the families who lost loved ones, to a battleground for religious and political ideologies. So many people from different nationalities and religions were killed that day. This site should be a neutral place for all to come in peace and remember. I believe my mother would have thought so as well.

The Iranian revolution compelled my family to flee to America when I was 12 years old. Yet, just over two decades later, the militant version of our faith caught up with us on a September morning. I still identify as a Muslim. When you are born into a Muslim family, there is no way around it, no choices available: You are Muslim. I am not ashamed of my faith, but I am ashamed of what is done in its name.

On the day I left Ground Zero shortly after the tragedy, I felt that I was abandoning my mother. It was like being forced to leave the bedside of a loved one who is dying, knowing you will never see her again. But I felt the love and respect of all those around me there, and it reassured me that she was being left in good hands. Since I cannot visit New York as often as I would like, I at least want to know that my mother can rest in peace.

I do not like harboring resentment or anger, but I do not want the death of my mother -- my best friend, my hero, my strength, my love -- to become even more politicized than it already is. To the supporters of this new Islamic cultural center, I must ask: Build your ideological monument somewhere else, far from my mother's grave, and let her rest.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con...

Thought this was an interesting opinion. What do you think?

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Iris - posted on 08/26/2010

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"Dana, Considering that there are already a ton of Mosques and multiple other "Islamic Cultural Centers" in NYC, I don't think this one is necessary. Even if the population somehow demands another place of worship / cutural center, the location makes no sense. Lower Manhattan is mainly commercial, there is very little residential. If they truly wanted to serve their population, they would be building in Brooklyn where the Muslim population mainly lives. "

They don't pray like Christians. They pray 5x a day:
Fajr - Before sunrise.
Zuhr - After the sun begins to decline from its zenith .
Asr - Mid-afternoon.
Maghrib - Just after sunset.
Isha - night.
Considering that most of them work in Manhattan I don't see the logic in just building cultural centers in Brooklyn.

"As far as the Pentagon, I wouldn't be so quick to tout their tolerance as a good thing. It was the overly "PC" attitude of the Pentagon and the Army that allowed Nidal Hasan to murder our soldiers down at Ft. Hood in the name of Allah."

Estimates vary that from 4,000 to more than 12,000 Muslims are in the US Military. And you are talking about ONE tragedy. I would understand if his was something that happened more frequently like we see with other crimes. But 1 out of 4000 – 12000 and you think the military is too PC??

"I am not going to apologize for being in my own eyes, a realist. If you choose to see me as a racist, or someone who is intolerant, so be it. I choose to believe that some of you here are giving too much credit to a group of people who have done nothing but show how intolerant they are to our culture, and our way of life. They are proving all over America, and I am sure Canada how unwilling they are to assimilate to our way of life. I am not saying two wrongs make a right, and I do believe that they have the right to gather and worship peacefully in Mosques. This would be a completely different post if we were talking about the banning of mosques completely, but we are not. I feel that it is wrong for them to want to build there, and it is highly insensitive. The fact that they are pushing forward despite such huge resistance makes me suspect of their true intentions."

Kelly, I do think you are showing intolerance. I think you need to see that the American Muslims are not the terrorists coming from the Middle East. These American Muslims are not gloating in triumph. They are just Americans with different faith than yours. Of course there are a few crazies in between, but we have that in any religion and any cause out there. But the majority only wants to go on on their path in peace.

http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/tre67f4...

Pamela - posted on 08/23/2010

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I don't assume the worst of this Muslim community center that is being built (actually, expanded apparently) in the Burlington Coat factory 2 blocks away. Plans to build Cordoba House were noted in December 2009, at a location that was already in use for Muslim worship.

So let's not get our knickers in a knot. There isn't some radical Muslim sneaky agenda to overtake our country - there really is no reason to fear this community center.

Isobel - posted on 08/10/2010

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In fact, I should think that the people who attacked the WTC would feel the ultimate success if they were not able to build the Mosque...because they got you to surrender your values as a western society.

Pamela - posted on 08/23/2010

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/...

I think this is just a bunch of political posturing by right-wing folk like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and the whole gang. Why? Because elections are a-coming and let's get everybody freaked out about radical Muslims...even if they aren't radical Muslims. But good luck convincing anybody of that...

Sara - posted on 08/11/2010

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And truly, I fail to see the point that posting this article, as well as the other written by a Muslim, proves. It's pretty obvious that people from all walks of life have very different opinions about all this. I don't lend more credibility to one person because they are Muslim, they are entitled to their opinion as I am entitled to mine. As I said before, for me the question is simple: Should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here.



At the Pentagon, another site of 9/11 attacks, the Department of Defense has regularly held Muslim worship services. Is that spitting in the face of those who died?



I firmly believe in two things. Number one is, I will not paint all Muslims with a broad brush. These were extremist terrorists that did this. And I know many very, very good, upstanding citizen Muslims. And there are millions of them around the country. So, I will not stain all of them with guilt by affiliation.



Number two is that we were attacked on September 11 because of all the tenets in the First Amendment, freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of speech. And for us to then roll back the freedom of religion, to me, is just falling right into their hands.

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LaCi - posted on 08/24/2010

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I saw an Allah bless America bumper sticker when I was stuck in traffic today. It made me smile. Sorry if that's off topic. :D

Kelly - posted on 08/11/2010

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Ok, I am going to try to get this out in between cooking dinner...... Krista, I am fully aware that the proposed site is 2 blocks from Ground Zero. I cannot help it that it is known in the media as the Ground Zero Mosque. Possibly because in NYC 2 blocks is nothing, but take that how you want.

Dana, Considering that there are already a ton of Mosques and multiple other "Islamic Cultural Centers" in NYC, I don't think this one is necessary. Even if the population somehow demands another place of worship / cutural center, the location makes no sense. Lower Manhattan is mainly commercial, there is very little residential. If they truly wanted to serve their population, they would be building in Brooklyn where the Muslim population mainly lives.

As far as the Pentagon, I wouldn't be so quick to tout their tolerance as a good thing. It was the overly "PC" attitude of the Pentagon and the Army that allowed Nidal Hasan to murder our soldiers down at Ft. Hood in the name of Allah.

As far as my reasoning for posting opinion pieces by Muslims, I feel that they are "in the know" as far as the thought process of the average (and the extremist) Muslim. They seem to have no problem understanding the true reasons behind building this Mosque / Cultural Center in the proposed location. This quote in particular speaks volumes to me:

"As for those teary-eyed, bleeding-heart liberals such as New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and much of the media, who are blind to the Islamist agenda in North America, we understand their goodwill.

Unfortunately for us, their stand is based on ignorance and guilt, and they will never in their lives have to face the tyranny of Islamism that targets, kills and maims Muslims worldwide, and is using liberalism itself to destroy liberal secular democratic societies from within."

I am not going to apologize for being in my own eyes, a realist. If you choose to see me as a racist, or someone who is intolerant, so be it. I choose to believe that some of you here are giving too much credit to a group of people who have done nothing but show how intolerant they are to our culture, and our way of life. They are proving all over America, and I am sure Canada how unwilling they are to assimilate to our way of life. I am not saying two wrongs make a right, and I do believe that they have the right to gather and worship peacefully in Mosques. This would be a completely different post if we were talking about the banning of mosques completely, but we are not. I feel that it is wrong for them to want to build there, and it is highly insensitive. The fact that they are pushing forward despite such huge resistance makes me suspect of their true intentions.

Dana - posted on 08/11/2010

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Sara, I don't think anyone could have said it better. There's nothing you can argue or debate in your post. You are clearly correct and thank God, that ignorance and fear aren't running this country into the ground anymore then they already have.

Dana - posted on 08/10/2010

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Thought I'd bring it over here, maybe I'll get a reply.

You

posted August 7, 3:00 pm

Wow, I thought I'd pop into the community for a minute and catch up on some stuff. Now I feel like beating my head against the keyboard.

As Cathy has pointed out the mosque isn't being built on ground zero, it's being built close to it. Should there be no mosque's in all of New York City? How close is too close, where's the line?
It's just absurd, people ranting and going off on tangents about the most ignorant things, over something that shouldn't even be a big deal.


I also find it ironic that those who oppose this are also the same people who feel like Christians are constantly being attacked. If anyone turns the tables and says what if this were being done to Christians, all of a sudden you're attacking Christians. Freaking ridiculous.

Dana - posted on 08/10/2010

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Psh, Jenny, that was my question DAYS ago on the other thread....no one answered me either.

Krista - posted on 08/10/2010

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Why do you keep calling it the Ground Zero Mosque, Kelly? It's not AT Ground Zero...it's a couple of blocks away. St. Paul's Chapel is kitty-corner to Ground Zero...are we going to start calling it the Ground Zero chapel? We should. It's a heck of a lot closer. Then there's that great department store, Century 21, which is just across the street from Ground Zero. So it should be referred to as Century Zero? Or Ground 21?

The damn thing is blocks away. And like Laura said, how far away would be acceptable, then? 4 blocks? 10? Jersey?

LaCi - posted on 08/10/2010

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A complete ban on mosques in the US would be acceptable, I would imagine. Can we ban churches while we're at it? These darn catholics keep me up at night with their crazy parties. :)

Kelly - posted on 08/10/2010

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Last week, a journalist who writes for the North Country Times, a small newspaper in Southern California, sent us an e-mail titled "Help." He couldn't understand why an Islamic Centre in an area where Adam Gadahn, Osama bin Laden's American spokesman came from, and that was home to three of the 911 terrorists, was looking to expand.

The man has a very valid point, which leads to the ongoing debate about building a Mosque at Ground Zero in New York. When we try to understand the reasoning behind building a mosque at the epicentre of the worst-ever attack on the U.S., we wonder why its proponents don't build a monument to those who died in the attack?

New York currently boasts at least 30 mosques so it's not as if there is pressing need to find space for worshippers. The fact we Muslims know the idea behind the Ground Zero mosque is meant to be a deliberate provocation to thumb our noses at the infidel. The proposal has been made in bad faith and in Islamic parlance, such an act is referred to as "Fitna," meaning "mischief-making" that is clearly forbidden in the Koran.

The Koran commands Muslims to, "Be considerate when you debate with the People of the Book" -- i.e., Jews and Christians. Building an exclusive place of worship for Muslims at the place where Muslims killed thousands of New Yorkers is not being considerate or sensitive, it is undoubtedly an act of "fitna"

So what gives Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the "Cordoba Initiative" and his cohorts the misplaced idea that they will increase tolerance for Muslims by brazenly displaying their own intolerance in this case?

Do they not understand that building a mosque at Ground Zero is equivalent to permitting a Serbian Orthodox church near the killing fields of Srebrenica where 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered?

There are many questions that we would like to ask. Questions about where the funding is coming from? If this mosque is being funded by Saudi sources, then it is an even bigger slap in the face of Americans, as nine of the jihadis in the Twin Tower calamity were Saudis.

If Rauf is serious about building bridges, then he could have dedicated space in this so-called community centre to a church and synagogue, but he did not. We passed on this message to him through a mutual Saudi friend, but received no answer. He could have proposed a memorial to the 9/11 dead with a denouncement of the doctrine of armed jihad, but he chose not to.

It's a repugnant thought that $100 million would be brought into the United States rather than be directed at dying and needy Muslims in Darfur or Pakistan.

Let's not forget that a mosque is an exclusive place of worship for Muslims and not an inviting community centre. Most Americans are wary of mosques due to the hard core rhetoric that is used in pulpits. And rightly so. As Muslims we are dismayed that our co-religionists have such little consideration for their fellow citizens and wish to rub salt in their wounds and pretend they are applying a balm to sooth the pain.

The Koran implores Muslims to speak the truth, even if it hurts the one who utters the truth. Today we speak the truth, knowing very well Muslims have forgotten this crucial injunction from Allah.

If this mosque does get built, it will forever be a lightning rod for those who have little room for Muslims or Islam in the U.S. We simply cannot understand why on Earth the traditional leadership of America's Muslims would not realize their folly and back out in an act of goodwill.

As for those teary-eyed, bleeding-heart liberals such as New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and much of the media, who are blind to the Islamist agenda in North America, we understand their goodwill.

Unfortunately for us, their stand is based on ignorance and guilt, and they will never in their lives have to face the tyranny of Islamism that targets, kills and maims Muslims worldwide, and is using liberalism itself to destroy liberal secular democratic societies from within.

Raheel Raza is author of Their Jihad ... Not my Jihad, and Tarek Fatah is author of The Jew is Not My Enemy (McClelland & Stewart), to be launched in October. Both sit on the board of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Mischi...

Sorry to post and run, I will try to get back later today...... Here is yet ANOTHER article written by Muslims....... unless you want to somehow critique their level of faith as well? Thought the last two paragraphs especially applied here. And Dana, I will check the other thread when I get back too :-)

Sara - posted on 08/10/2010

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I don't think that building this community center is a sign of victory or conquest. The people that attacked us have already accomplished their goals, because here we are arguing about whether or not this is right. There are thousands of people dying in Afghanistan and Iraq...they already did what they set out to do.

LaCi - posted on 08/10/2010

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"The point is, that in Islam, THEY view the erection of a place of worship as a sign of conquest. "



And as Americans we believe in freedom of a religion and the freedom of any group to build their place of worship on any legally acquired property. Who cares if someone somewhere thinks this is some sort of victory? It wouldn't BE a "victory" or able to be construed as a victory at all if people weren't bitching about it. NOW that people are throwing tantrums about it, it could be, because they'll be defeated. If we all just didn't care, as we shouldn't, then there's no victory. It's like a kid who is being teased at school, if you call the kid a geek and he doesn't give a shit, you haven't accomplished anything as a bully, if you call him a geek and he cries then you feel that bully satisfaction. WHO CARES what people think? a few nuts I might add, not people who's opinions anyone should bother caring about. If they want to feel some sort of satisfaction, whatever. I don't really care. No more than I care if the westboro people feel satisfaction the next time they're telling us a natural disaster happened to us, and not them, because we're homosexuals. The opinions of whack-jobs shouldn't concern any of us.

Kelly - posted on 08/09/2010

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I didn't compare them. I am simply pointing out that other groups and businesses ARE prevented from building where they want, so the precedent has already been set.....

Isobel - posted on 08/09/2010

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Liquor stores, strip clubs, and other "businesses of ill repute" are not the same as places of worship...come on now.

Isobel - posted on 08/09/2010

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I meant the ignorant and hateful people will vandalize the property and attempt to hurt the people in it...not that everybody who disagrees is ignorant and hateful.

Kelly - posted on 08/09/2010

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Why is it considered ignorant or hatred just because some don't believe their true intentions? Has there ever been a case of a Christian church built on the spot of a blown up abortion clinic? I don't think so...... The point is, that in Islam, THEY view the erection of a place of worship as a sign of conquest. And they are conveniently getting as close as possible to ground zero to build this huge monstrosity........ coincidence? Like I said before, the background of the people behind this project are suspect, and they have been proven to be liars. They also have proven to be insensitive to the feelings of survivors, and their neighbors in Manhattan. Why in the hell do they want to build there, in a place they are so obviously not wanted? Here is another interesting article:
http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010...

Just some food for thought. And Mary Elizabeth, we do already set limits on certain groups rights to build where they want. Liquor stores, strip clubs, and other "businesses of ill repute" are banned from building every day if their desired location happens to be too close to a school, or a neighborhood, etc. Do you have a problem with that too?

LaCi - posted on 08/09/2010

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"What is the mathematical equation for how far exactly a Mosque must be from ground zero? Down the street? Around the corner? Out of eyesight? Outside New York?"

I'm guessing out of new york, since it's already out of sight and around a corner. You have to walk to the other end of the block and turn too see ground zero from a distance.

ME - posted on 08/09/2010

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Good question Laura...I've been waiting for a response too...It seems that, if we can't build a mosque near ground zero, we also can't build one near the pentagon, or near that rural penn. field. The shoe bomber didn't succeed, but he did attempt an attack in Chicago, should we also stop people from building mosques near midway airport? What about other things that people find offensive? Should we not be allowed to build women's clinics near religious institutions? What about gay and lesbian bars? Should they have to get the permission of those that they offend before opening places of business? I am NOT changing the subject. I'm just asking again...what precedent are we setting by limiting a groups right to build a building where they want it? Is it a precedent that we want to set? I don't think so!!!

Isobel - posted on 08/09/2010

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My family led a largely secular existence -- I did not attend a religious school,...but for us, as for anyone there, Islam was part of our heritage, our culture, our entire lives... I still have great respect for the faith.

My husband(ish guy) still identifies as a Jew. He doesn't believe in Judaism. Would you call him Jewish?

I suppose it's semantics really...I just think this is one of those things...if she's a Muslim, I'm a Christian, and my husband is a Jew.

...........................

I do fear for that mosque...I do NOT fear that it will be a signal of conquest...I fear that ignorant, hateful, fearful, Americans will do damage to the people who worship there...even though it is clearly not ON the site.

I ask again...exactly how far is far enough?

Kelly - posted on 08/09/2010

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"I still identify as a Muslim. When you are born into a Muslim family, there is no way around it, no choices available: You are Muslim. I am not ashamed of my faith, but I am ashamed of what is done in its name."

So she is a self described Muslim. Or do you think she isn't one because she didn't go to religious school and cover her head?

As far as the mosque, I posted this as a confirmation of the point I made in the previous thread. Regardless of whether they have the Constitutional right to build there, the fact remains that the building of a mosque so close to ground zero would be seen as a victory to radical Islamic fanatics around the world, and encourage them to keep up the fight.

I guess I am just having a hard time understanding the fact that people are unwilling to heed the warnings from those who are closest and most familiar with the beliefs and feelings of radical Islamic extremists. Not solely this woman, but many other outspoken Muslims that have witnessed with their own eyes what goes on.

As far as the group behind this particular mosque and their actual intentions, they have already proved to be liars. And proven that they have no issues lying on affidavits. So how come you are still so willing to believe what they say about the true reason they want this mosque in that particular location?

ME - posted on 08/09/2010

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I don't think that taking away the freedom of peaceful Muslim Americans is a good way to respond to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Perhaps someone who was hurt so terribly by these attacks is not the right person to be making objective reasonable decisions (or suggestions) about what should and should not be allowed to happen in this case...

Isobel - posted on 08/09/2010

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What is the mathematical equation for how far exactly a Mosque must be from ground zero? Down the street? Around the corner? Out of eyesight? Outside New York?

On the OP...why does it say she's Muslim, when she is no more a Muslim, than I am a Christian...my whole family is Christian, that's my heritage...my boyfriend's family was Jewish...but we are atheists...as it appears is the writer of this article.

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