Last week the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously against granting landmark status to the former Burlington Coat Factory Building which will now be demolished, clearing the way for the construction of an Islamic "community center". This location, which is in the shadow of the site of the 9/11 attacks, is where an engine from one of the planes that struck the World Trade Center was found.
This mosque, which is the brainchild of the Cordoba Initiative and controversial Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, is an affront to the victims of the 9/11 attacks and their families. While the imam claims that the project, "aims to achieve a tipping point in Muslim-West relations within the next decade, steering the world back to the course of mutual recognition and respect and away from heightened tensions", nothing could be farther from the truth. Its actual effect has been, and will continue to be, to cause an even larger rift and to foment even more anger and distrust of Islam in the United States.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has said that he wants the U.S. to be “more Sharia compliant”, that American foreign policy was to blame for the 9/11 attacks and that Hamas is not a terrorist organization. Those radical statements and the questionable funding sources for the mosque, along with its proximity to Ground Zero, have led to a tremendous outcry against the project.
We constantly hear that Americans need do be sensitive and tolerant of Islam, yet it seems that Muslims never have to be sensitive or tolerant of the feelings of Americans. It would seem that especially in this instance, if there were a sincere desire to bridge the divide between so-called "moderate" Islam and the West that the Cordoba Initiative would recognize the pain and anger that this project is causing and agree to move it to another location voluntarily.
In the Muslim faith building a mosque at the site of a military victory is a way of claiming that spot for Islam, the mosque becomes a marker to that victory. The original Mosque of Cordoba was built atop the ashes of a Christian church that a Muslim army had destroyed in the city of Andalusia around 711 A.D, as a way of marking the victory. So using the name Cordoba is not a coincidence and only makes this project’s intent even more questionable and its construction that much more objectionable.
The construction of this mosque, using this name, at this location would be akin to the Israelis attacking Mecca, destroying the Masjid al-Haram (the largest mosque in the world) and then building a synagogue in its place. The Islamic world would never tolerate such an act.
And while we’re discussing what the Islamic world would never tolerate, these “tolerant”, “sensitive” people would never allow a Christian church or a Jewish synagogue to be built anywhere in their countries, much less on or near hallowed ground. Make no mistake, Ground Zero is hallowed ground and should be treated as such. The only memorials or markers that should be built in or around the site of the World Trade Center should be to those that were murdered there, including the brave men and women of the New York City Police Department, the New York City Fire Department and the Port Authority Police of New York and New Jersey.
As someone that lost a family member in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, I must say that I am appalled at the insensitivity of, not only the people behind the Cordoba Initiative, but of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and all the other New York politicians that are supportive of building this mosque so close to Ground Zero.
This is, once again, political correctness run amok. There may be no legal reason to block this project. But there are certainly moral and common sense reasons to prevent it from being built.
It should be noted that the New York City Landmarks Commission’s decision was not on whether or not the Cordoba Initiative’s project should move forward. It was simply a vote on whether or not the current building should be designated a landmark. This writer disagrees with the commission’s decision and believes that the fact that an engine from one of the planes that struck the World Trade Center came to rest there is reason enough to designate the building a historical landmark.