Posts Tagged ‘Muslim Center’

Tolerance and hate in New York: update on the mosque “at” Ground Zero

July 15, 2010

The long-running saga of a Muslim-American group’s effort to build a community center and mosque two and a half blocks from Ground Zero ended another chapter Wednesday night. New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission held a public hearing on whether to declare the group’s 150-year old building to be a historic landmark, and thus require its preservation as is.

The hearing drew a robust crowd, hardly any of whom cared a bit about the building. The real issue was whether to allow a Muslim center near Ground Zero. Most of the arguments made in favor of landmark designation were anti-Muslim rants, like that of an unidentified woman who said “It would be a terrible mistake to destroy a 150-year old building in order to build a monument to terrorism.”

Dania Darwish, a new graduate of New York’s Fort Hamilton High School, argued for the mosque:

“My family died that day…You’re yelling at me and you don’t know. If a mosque was built maybe you would know what Islam is about.”

The community isn’t particularly bigoted—New Yorkers pride themselves on their diversity, and a Manhattan community board recently voted 29-1 with ten abstentions to approve the mosque.. If you expected New York Jews to be opposed, guess again: New York’s Jewish Week reported that Jewish leaders haven’t made a big deal about the center, and the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan even offered some advice. Jewish elected officials (more…)

The mosque at Ground Zero is friendly, unobtrusive, and as American as the 92nd Street Y

June 12, 2010

I went to see for myself what the mosque at Ground Zero is like. Considering the fuss made over the mosque by the New York Post and by the thousands of people who post rabid anti-mosque messages every three minutes on a Facebook group, I thought it would be easy to find; just go to Ground Zero and look around.

Nope, you can’t see it from Ground Zero, and none of the half-dozen locals I asked had any idea what I was talking about. I finally remembered that it was in a former Burlington Coat Factory store. I googled “Burlington Coat Factory Ground Zero New York,” and there it was: 45 Park Place (closed). Two blocks up Church Street from Ground Zero and a half-block into Park Place.

You can’t see the mosque from Ground Zero, and you can’t see Ground Zero from the mosque. We walked in and were greeted by Kemal, the caretaker, who was busy scrubbing the floor. He invited us to take off our shoes and look around. There wasn’t much to see—old drab retail space, completely empty except for the indoor/outdoor carpet that serves as a prayer rug.

The Imam is Feisal Abdul Rauf, a graduate of Columbia University who has worked for twenty years to build bridges between American Muslims and the broad public, and between America and the Muslim world. (more…)


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