There has been a lot of uproar recently regarding the proposed "Ground Zero mosque". I agree that there are plenty of questions that need to be answered, such as where the money is coming from, but should the failure to answer those questions stop the construction of that mosque? In my opinion, no.
There are plenty of people who also feel that because there appears to be majority opposition to the proposed mosque that it should not be built. Torches and pitchforks appear to have been replaced by petitions, pens, screaming and bullhorns.
"It is the will of the people!" Pardon me, but, umm… the will of the people is not legitimate by default because we’re not a democracy.
Many say that the mosque, which will be a community center for which there will be an Islamic prayer center inside, is a celebration of 9/11 by Islam. One reason cited for this is because it will allegedly share its name with another mosque: the Great Mosque of Cordoba in Cordoba, Spain. However that mosque is actually called the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, or more simply the Cordoba Cathedral, and is the home of the Diocese of Cordoba.
Contrary to what has been said, the Great Mosque wasn’t constructed atop a church that was destroyed when Muslims conquered Cordoba. The mosque started life as the Christian Visigoth Church of St Vincent in approximately AD 600. Following the conquest of the Visigoths by the Muslims, the building was renovated and converted over several hundred years into a mosque. In 1236 Cordoba was captured by King Ferdinand III of Castile and the mosque converted back to a Christian church, also over the course of several hundred years with more Christian features added by future kings. Some remnants of its Islamic history do remain.
Another reason cited is its proximity to Ground Zero: approximately two blocks. Many who cite that may not realize that there is another mosque already in New York about four blocks from Ground Zero, called Masjid Manhattan, founded in 1970. Another mosque exists about 12 blocks from Ground Zero: Masjid al-Farah, founded in 1985. Both mosques are really little more than Islam prayer rooms that have routinely turned people away for lack of space.
So what’s wrong with one more Islam prayer center in New York?
Many have argued that a mosque should not be permitted near Ground Zero so long as a Christian church doesn’t exist near Ground Zero. In response to this let me ask this one question: does any religion have a right to claim Ground Zero as "holy land"? Plus, as I said, a mosque already exists four blocks from Ground Zero.
Now granted there is a church that was destroyed when the towers collapsed, and I agree that the church should be rebuilt. Why the City of New York hasn’t fast-tracked that is beyond me, but the church should be resurrected. Having some old-style architecture among the skyline of the world’s largest city… how can anyone say no?
But to call the proposed building a "mosque" because there will be an Islam prayer room is like calling a Catholic hospital a church because there’s a chapel.
But let’s get back to the point.
A building will be converted into a community center that will be open to the public. Inside this community center will be an Islam prayer room, a "mosque" if you will. The building is located about two blocks from Ground Zero. Perhaps I’m just blind, but where’s the issue? Why should this community center be forced to move? Seriously, where’s the problem?
Now as I said, the rebuild of the church destroyed on September 11, 2001, should be fast-tracked and permitted to commence. But to say that Muslims cannot have another prayer room until that occurs puts things on a slippery slope — the kind of "if you allow it once, what’s to stop you from allowing it again" kind of argument.
Let the Muslims have their community center and Islam prayer room, unless you want Muslims to stand up and start protesting the building of any further churches in this country. Actually the fact it’s been primarily Christians who have been protesting this proposed "mosque", you’ve already given Islamic groups greater right to protest the construction of new churches.
Let me pose this question: what if Jews wanted to buy the Ground Zero land and build a synagogue on it?
As an agnostic atheist, I don’t really like the spread of any religion. As a libertarian, I know it is every person’s right, however, to practice and preach whatever religion they want, including erecting buildings or adding and renovating rooms for that purpose, so long as what they are practicing and preaching doesn’t require anything that violates other people’s rights.
Speaking of which, converting this building and providing in it an Islam prayer room isn’t violating anyone’s rights.
Links and Resources
Barnard, Anne. (2010, August 13). "In Lower Manhattan, 2 Mosques Have Firm Roots". New York Times.
Great Mosque of Córdoba. (2010, August 30). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 13:52, September 1, 2010.