The planned Park51 Islamic community center, often referred to as the “Ground Zero mosque,” sparked much controversy over the past few months. Radicals from both sides protested in New York, especially on Sept. 11. Politicians have debated hotly over the ethicality of the Mosque, drawing much publicity. Mirador weighs in on the dispute.
PRO by Morgan Freeman
As Americans we enjoy the right to practice any religion we want. This freedom has been important to our country from its start.
As New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated on his Aug. 3 pro-mosque speech: “part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11, 2001. On that day, 3,000 people were killed because some murderous fanatics didn’t want us to enjoy the freedoms to profess our own faiths.”
Denying Americans the right to build a place of worship is a direct violation of the First Amendment. The Park51 project leaders have every right to build the Islamic center in any place they want.
While building the center in Manhattan would cause much controversy, I believe that over time, the mosque could be beneficial. The mosque’s official website states that their mission is to “cultivate neighborly relations amongst New Yorkers, fostering civic participation,” and to “encourage dialogue, harmony and respect amongst all people, regardless of race, faith, gender or cultural background.”
The mosque is a tricky issue, but what it really comes down to is the fact that our country cannot prohibit any house of worship from being built. Could it be perceived as being a bit insensitive? Yes. But it is also 100% legal.
The project’s founders did not intend for such a controversy. They proposed the mosque with hope that it would be not only a valuable center to provide services to the public, but also an important step toward acceptance of American Muslims. Intolerance will only breed more hatred of Americans.
CON by Zakk Bluford
The plans to build a mosque at Ground Zero in Manhattan should be cut off immediately. The question is not whether Muslims have the right to do such a thing, as President Obama recently commented on; the question is one of respect for the memory of September 11th and of common sense.
Although the mosque to be built is in no way affiliated with the extremist Muslims who destroyed the Twin Towers as well as thousands of American lives, people will surely take offense to the creation of a Muslim place of worship near the site of the attack.
The creation of such a building would be similar to creating a German nationalist establishment on the site of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland. Even if the German nationalists held no association with the Nazi party and were fully tolerant of Jews and other targets of the Holocaust, people would still naturally make connections with the traumatizing time in history that the site calls back to.
The idea to build the mosque is also self-destructive because of the way the offended people will react. It is popular knowledge that there are bigoted Americans, such as those who wanted to burn copies of the Koran on September 11th, who are nearly as determined as fundamentalist terrorists and would do all they could to bring turmoil to the mosque.
The mosque would have tremendous difficulty functioning properly with the constant distraction of protesters who would surely surround it. The members of the congregation would forever be in danger of white supremacists and reactionary “patriots” that would go as far as harming or even killing someone who insults the so-called values of their country. Despite the purity and harmlessness of the principles behind it, approving the mosque at Ground Zero would be irresponsible and possibly lethal.