Unless you’ve been completely cut off from the outside world for the past couple of months, you’ve probably heard that there are plans to construct a mosque just steps from Ground Zero. Also probably on your radar: A lot of people aren’t too happy about it.
Proof of this was on display Sunday, when more than 1,000 protesters gathered on the corner of Church and Liberty Streets to rail against plans to construct a mosque and Islamic cultural/community center on Park Place, a mere two blocks from the World Trade Center site.
According to the Tribeca Tribune, during the three-hour demonstration, organized by Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), protesters endured 90-degree temps to listen to speakers — from family members of 9/11 victims to a former Muslim woman — denounce not only the construction plans… but often Islam itself.
The signs the protesters, most of them middle-aged or older, waved also bashed the religion. One read, “All I need to know about Islam, I learned on 9/11.” Another said, “You can build a mosque at Ground Zero when we can build a synagogue in Mecca.”
But the Cordoba Initiative, the Muslim group dedicated to fostering better relationships between New York City’s Muslim and non-Muslim communities, feels that this is exactly why a mosque and educational/cultural center would be so beneficial at 45 Park Place, a location it owns and plans to name Cordoba House when building is complete. The Cordoba Initiative opposes the radical Islam responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and wants the opportunity to teach people the difference between those extremist violent sects and the vast, peaceful majority of Muslims.
The protesters who gathered on Sunday, however, remain unswayed. Their feeling is that there are plenty of mosques in New York already, and they believe it is inappropriate to build another one so close to the site of 9/11 devastation.
One protester, Joyce Boland, whose son died in the Sept. 11 attacks, told the Tribune: “I donâ€™t think that a mosque should go up to loom over his grave, when they were responsible for what happened.”
While no violence erupted during the protest, there was definitely some pretty palpable hostility. An Arab-American TV crew, who were later revealed to be there to protest the mosque, had to be removed from the crowd by a police escort when protesters became agitated by their presence.
What is your feeling on the situation? Are those opposed to the mosque being to narrow-minded? Would a mosque near Ground Zero be a positive step in defusing prejudices toward Islam that were ingrained on the hearts and minds of many Americans on Sept. 11, 2001? Or is it just too soon and too close for comfort?