Monday, August 30, 2010

Musing on the Mosque at Ground Zero

So, what did Karen Armstrong have to say in the video snippet when asked her opinion about the mosque/ civic center near Ground Zero?  You can hear the whole clip HERE. It's only about 2 minutes long. 

Her first comment was that the building in question is not a mosque nor is it at Ground Zero.  It is several blocks away from Ground Zero, in a neighborhood that was devastated by the attack on the Twin Towers. She sees the new community center aka mosque as a rebuttal of the terrorism that took place at the World Trade Center. 

Now, just to be clear, I am writing this post without an extensive amount of research under my belt. I do, however, know more this afternoon than I did this morning.  My opinion is not etched in stone because the information I've gleaned thus far is not all there is to say on the subject.  I am just musing about it in written on the cyber pages of this blog. I'm leaning toward the left....not an epiphany for anyone who reads here regularly (or even now and then :)

What have I read?  Well, to begin with I've read that the people behind the mosque are mainly Sufi's....a branch of Islam that is regarded by radical Islam as heretical. Sufi's find their spiritual inspiration from a plethora of sources including Christian writings...the Bible...and other sacred writings. They are not dogmatic. They are not fundamentalists. Their beliefs lean toward mysticism...not fundamentalism.  Radical Islam puts them on the same ladder as Christianity...they might even be a rung or two below Christians because they are guilty of perverting the one true religion...and they should know better.  To the terrorists behind 9-11, the mosque folks are infidels too.  

And what about all the talk about the area being sacred ground. Is it really? Do plans to build a major retail shopping center, including two levels of below grade concourses violate the sanctity of the spot where several thousand people died?  And that is indeed planned right smack dab at Ground Zero. A snippet about the retail plans for Ground Zero from the World Trade Center website.

Occupying approximately 550,000 square feet of total space, retail areas will be interspersed throughout the World Trade Center (WTC) - stretching from as far as the new Fulton Street Transit Center to the World Financial Center.
Shops and services will be located on six levels, including two-levels of a below-grade concourse extending from the World Financial Center to both the new Fulton Street Transit Center and the corner of Liberty and Church Streets; below grade in the new Santiago Calatrava-designed Transportation Hub; at street level on Church Street, Cortlandt Way, and Dey Street; and on three levels above grade within Towers 2, 3, and 4 - three Class A office towers designed respectively by world-renowned architectural firms Foster and Partners, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, and Maki & Associates. Developed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey - with support from Silverstein Properties - the retail space is expected to be completed by 2014.

WTC retail will be positioned at the center of the resurgence of Lower Manhattan, which, following the completion of the redevelopment of the WTC, will be one of the largest business districts in the United States, a vibrant residential community, a major hub of transportation within the NYC metropolitan area, and a world-renowned shopping destination.

"The design we have developed with the Port Authority calls for not only rebuilding the retail space that was lost on 9/11, but going above and beyond what was there before. We want to create a real destination for visitors and shoppers, a center that will share many of the attributes of the city’s great retail hubs."

So, should the area be rebuilt with the emphasis on creating a "real destination for visitors and shoppers"? Should stores be built below grade...right there in what is, in essence, a burial ground? Is that honoring the sanctity of the area? there are plans for this major retail hub RIGHT AT Ground Zero.  But what about the proposed mosque? How close is it...really?  I don't know.  I've found conflicting information. I read it was a block...two blocks...six blocks. I googled it and came upon a blog called "Oh My Gov" Exposing Government's Wonders and Blunders. There are 13 views of the Ground Zero area.  The pictures show where the mosque will be located in relation to where the Twin Towers stood. I can't vouch for the blog...but the pictures look legit.  Check it out for yourself....HERE

And for a more tongue in cheek...Pete on the Street look at where the mosque will be...may relation to Ground Zero check out this video. 

Another point I happened upon....many Muslims live in the area of the proposed mosque/civic center. A Time Magazine article states the following:

Ironically, Islam's roots in New York City are in the area around the site of the World Trade Center, and they predate the Twin Towers: in the late 19th century, a portion of lower Manhattan was known as Little Syria and was inhabited by Arab immigrants — Muslims and Christians — from the Ottoman Empire.

So, according to Time Magazine...there have been Muslims in the area since the late 19th Century.

And another thing we tend to forget is that there were many nationalities and various religious beliefs among those who died at Ground Zero. Muslim lives were also lost when the planes hit the Twin Towers. And I am not talking about the death pilots flying the planes. I searched on google for some exact statistics but, like the distance thing, I found conflicting reports.  I am going to do a bit more research on the breakdown...and will post what I find. 

And my last "what about" point...
Was our country founded on the principle of religious freedom or not? Are the guaranteed freedoms mainly for the WASP branches of religion...or are they for ALL religions. I've read quips at several sites that express the following sentiment....

I will advocate for a Ground Zero mosque just as soon as we can build a synagogue and a Roman Catholic church in Mecca.

Does that really have any bearing on whether the mosque should be built or not?  Is that the deciding factor...what's permissible in Mecca? Can we really use the Taliban as a yardstick for religious rights and freedoms?

More in my next post....

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1 comment:

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