Wednesday, 15 September 2010

A Mosque Near Ground Zero?

I know, it’s not a mosque – it’s an Islamic Cultural Centre, named the Cordoba House with a interfaith spiritual center, a monument to those who died on 9/11 and… a Muslim prayer area. Most importantly, it won’t be on top of Ground Zero. Rather, it will be two blocks away on top of what used to be a Burlington coat factory. A majority of Americans oppose the idea and I agree with them. Here’s why: America is the land of freedom, where one can practice the religion of one’s choice and say what one feels. Nevertheless, building a mosque (Islamic cultural centre if you insist) right next to the World Trade Centre site is in bad taste. If I were to draw a parallel, it would be akin to building a grand centre for German culture right next to Auschwitz. There is nothing wrong with German culture or its promotion, but a centre for Germanic culture right next to Auschwitz will rankle. Just as it is not right for Pastor Terry Jones to burn the Quran, though he has the legal right to do so in the US, it is not right for US Muslims to want to build a mosque (Islamic cultural centre if you will) so close to Ground Zero.

A mosque two blocks away from Ground Zero is very insensitive and it rankles.


Ayyappadas Puthenmarath said...

This is as preposterous as stating, a Gurudwara should not be built near 1 Safdarjung Road or a Temple should not be built next to Best Bakery. Yes the destruction of WTC was an event of profound magnitude upon the lives of millions of Muslims. But hyphenating the religion or its symbols with the death of 3000 innocent lives in such a tangible way(by denying anything Islamic even 2 blocks away) would have far reaching consequences.
Tomorrow if we start creating radii and boundaries, for every graveyard of human insanity it would have no end.Let the Muslims pray for those who died on the fateful day of 9/11 at the very place. I hope it would be a wonderful PR exercise, in truly American way. More importantly it would be a strong question to certain Muslim states which has poor track record in the area of tolerating other religious symbols. Allowing the mosque would pave way to put the ball in the court of Muslim liberals, who would have to answer uneasy questions about the status of some of their divine places.

Winnowed said...

Ayyapadas, to answer your question - I don't think Mrs. Indira Gandhi's family would be offended if a Gurudwara is built near Safdarjung, but the families of the 9/11 victims are indeed offended by the proposed Islamic Centre.

I would never say that the standards set for minority rights in Islamic countries can be an excuse for democracies ill treating Muslims. Nevertheless, I doubt if a Mosque near Ground Zero would force Saudi Arabia to permit Churches or Temples in its backyard.