Posts Tagged ‘mosque at Ground Zero’

Jews, Muslims, history, and the mosque “at” ground Zero

August 9, 2010

I came home from my tenth grade history class and announced, “Today we learned about the fall of Christian Constantinople to the Muslim Ottomans, and what a tragedy it was.” My father corrected me; “Not for the Jews, it wasn’t.” He went on to explain that the Ottoman Sultan, Beyazit I, in 1492 invited all the Jews of Spain, just expelled by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, to come live in peace in the Ottoman Empire, then the world’s most powerful. Thousands did, and lived peacefully and prosperously there for centuries, to this day.

Jews and Muslims have gotten on well for most of the time since the days of Mohammed, who honored Jews as “people of the book.” It’s easy today, looking at the enmity between Israel and some of her neighbors, to forget that Jewish culture thrived as never before or since in the “golden age of Jewish culture” in Muslim-ruled Spain, or that the Muslim Beyazit rescued the Jews of Spain and Portugal. Even the Jewish-Muslim conflict in the Middle East is over land, not religion.

So it’s nice to see so many Jews standing up for the rights of American Muslims to build Cordoba House, a community center with prayer area, 2-1/2 blocks from New York’s Ground Zero. NBC News reported, “Jewish Leaders Gather to Support Ground Zero Mosque.”

And Washington’s Jewish Week criticized the position of the Anti-Defamation League (more…)

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Newt Gingrich maligns American Muslims, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, and the mosque “at” Ground Zero

July 29, 2010

I got my weekly email yesterday from Newt Gingrich headed “No Mosque at Ground Zero.” It was quite scary—a 1500-word letter exposing Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf as “an apologist for Sharia supremacy” who “actually compared Sharia law with the Declaration of Independence, and who is spreading “moral confusion about the nature of radical Islamism.”

Newt leads up to this indictment of Rauf by warning us that “radical Islamists” are trying to impose Sharia law in parts of America, “no matter how deeply [it conflicts with] the democratic values undergirding our constitutional system.”

He then leads us through horrors like honor killings of family members, spousal torture and rape, and even threats against a disabled student with a [unclean] guide dog—all permitted by Newt’s version of Sharia.

Then Newt reveals the true intentions of Imam Rauf: to disarm America in the fight against “radical Islamism.”

Except it’s all a lie. Here’s what Rauf wrote recently on the subject of Sharia. It’s not about beheadings and amputations as a form of justice, or about women being stoned or forced into hiding behind burkas. Those things are not Shariah, but rather part of the penal codes in countries that deny fairness and justice, according to Rauf.

The mosque issue isn’t about defending American values against “radical Islamism,” like Newt says. It’s about defending American values against blind prejudice, like the Constitution and Declaration of Independence say.

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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…)

Anti-Muslim rants on Facebook: “1,000,000+ people who disapprove of building a mosque at Ground Zero!”

May 30, 2010

There’s a Facebook group called “1,000,000+ people who disapprove of building a mosque at Ground Zero!” It has 109,000 members so far, and the postings are mostly rabid anti-Muslim rants and slurs. Most of the members—even those not apparently driven by hate of Muslims—refer to all Muslims as “they”—as in they are terrorists, or they attacked us on 9/11.

There’s some background on the mosque here. Just last week a Manhattan community board struck a blow for New York-style tolerance and diversity by voting 29-1 with ten abstentions to approve the mosque. There are more hurdles ahead, but the community sentiment is in a good place.

I’ve joined the group to join the conversation. Wouldn’t it be nice if 109,000 more people joined who believed in religious freedom, and in NOT attributing to an entire people the acts of the worst of them. Go ahead and join up. You could join the conversation and perhaps inject a note of love-your-neighbor to the group. Who knows, it might be catching.

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