Mecca June 2008 - 1
Image by Ammar Abd Rabbo via Flickr

Everyone from political figureheads to next door neighbors seem to have an opinion on whether or not the Imam(prayer leader) of a mosque 12 blocks from Ground Zero should be permitted to build an Islamic community center closer to the place where innocent victims lost lives in the 9/11 tragedy.


The community center will not just be a place for Muslims to worship but also serve as a place where members of both the Muslim and non Muslim community can come to take cooking, music or a variety of other classes and activities.

Today in the Huffington Post, Dean Obeidullah reflects on why a mosque near ground zero is a postive thing for our country.   His questions about whether we should allow a sushi restaurant to be built at Pearl Harbor or a synagogue built near Wall Street where the con man Bernie Madoff victimized many individuals make one ponder our reactions to the building of this site.

I don’t know what the best answer is. I know that not every person from a culture or a religion shares the viewpoints of the extremists in that group. Not all Rwandans wanted genocide, not all those living in Communist Russia wanted to see the influence of communism spread, not all those living in Nazi Germany condoned the Holocaust and not all Americans share the views of the KKK or even their religious leader.

While we may be skeptical of terrorist groups, extreme organizations and beliefs strongly opposing our own, so may those whose cultures and heritage imprinted on them the mark of radicals, extremists and activists. Culture and religious belief have been spread in extremist mode since the Crusades. It doesn’t make it right or wrong. It makes it fact. And the fact also exists that many peace loving Muslims in America feared for their own life after the attacks of 9/11 just as many Americans did.

America affords its people the right to practice their religion without cost. Does that mean permitting a mosque near the Ground Zero site is simply practicing what we preach but not taking into account the gravity of what has happened near there?

We can stand for what we stand for but there will always be exceptions.

I stand for the right to speak freely but don’t like it when other culture’s leaders speak against my constitution. I stand for the right to a trial  but don’t like having my tax dollars spent to bring someone to justice who simply won’t plead guilty to an obviously validated crime. I stand for religious freedom too but don’t take too kindly to leaders who believe that women should be subrogated to men.

I stand for rights but that doesn’t mean having a right is right.

The mayor of New York supports building an Islamic center at Ground Zero while the governor of the state has offered to help the Imam locate a suitable piece of ground farther away from the place where so many lost lives that day. I have to ask the Imam what is the right thing for you to do? If you truly are sensitive to the reactions of the Americans who you hope feel welcomed at your proposed center, then why not agree to the governor’s suggestion and build it in a spot farther from the site that left a bad taste for your culture in our mouths?

Because our constitution guarantees men the right to practice religious freedoms  doesn’t make building your mosque in that location any more right than building a porn shop next to a school. Yes, it might be your right but a right is also a privilege and what kinds of privileges are you removing from peace loving Muslims trying to live and work among Americans who once again must ask how you expect people to treat Muslims with dignity and respect when you don’t offer the same?

It’s win/win to build elsewhere, what part of this don’t you get or are you only familiar with win/lose in everything?

We are still in mourning and will be forever.  Mecca is approached from all directions, please redirect yours out of your courtesy to show Americans that you respect them in a way you would like to be respected…OR…

Is that not possible, because this is about more than a mosque or a community center? Is this about the right to do whatever, just because you can? In Islamic countries I would never have the right to do as I please and just because you think you can, Mr. “Imam”, I ask if you should. You are on a trip promoting tolerance of Muslims in America but you don’t promote tolerating America in Islamic countries.

Until you learn that it can be win/win and are willing to do what is right for both sides, you will always be seen as the one who wants to hurt us, whether our bodies, our minds or our hearts. Your lack of compromise tells us that unless you defeat us and get what you want, nothing is a victory.

And that I simply cannot tolerate regardless of how many rights and privileges you believe you have. It’s not just a mosque, it’s a principle.

So my fellow Americans, what do you hope the Imam learns from this heated debate?

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About Kathy Brunner

Author, Speaker, Fire-starter. Believe anyone can make their passion happen and create a life On Purpose and With Intention. I can show you how to re-invent your life to go from Burned Out to Fired Up. Are you ready to REALLY live your dreams?
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6 Responses to To MOSQUE or Not To MOSQUE

  1. Archie says:

    I’ll keep this short and to the point:
    Is it their constitutional right, probably, if they have an American citizenship. Is it a respectible and moral thing to do? NO!

  2. CR Johnson says:

    Your message was well-worded and to the point. The fact is that the muslim community can never accept true Christianity; otherwise, Christians would be able to practice in muslim countries without persecution. I am glad that we live in the country we do, where we have all of our freedoms, and, yes, even the muslims have that freedom. That’s okay, but they should not expect us to act as though 9/11 never happened. They can build their shrine, they have that right, but how about if they build it elsewhere. Amen? I’m with you 100% on this one.


  3. Toni says:

    I totally agree that the respectful thing to do is to build the mosque elsewhere. The fact that this Iman is so obsessive about building the mosque at ground zero shows that he is more interested in himself than in the other people around him. To quote an editorial in my local newspaper, “Obtuseness of this magnitude can only be deliberate.” And just to set the record straight, we do not have religious freedom in America. Christians are constantly battling those who would legally ban their religious activities. We cannot pray in school, nor at commencement exercises, we must be careful not to talk about religious things at work lest we offend someone, we cannot post the ten commandments at our public buildings ( what about the Supreme Court?) etc.

  4. believer says:

    Coming from a Muslim background, I feel there was no need to have the mosque in that area. Especially Muslims themselves dont waste much time asking for respect and to not do things just because you can. I feel here the group could have made an example by not insisting.

    However in general I have a problem with mosques. Why? Well because it is not a commonground for all Muslims. Women can’t sit in the same area as men (gender segregation), different types of muslims can be present in mosques unless they adhere to the sect of the mosque (sunni, Shia and everything inbetween) and women can’t lead prayers let alone for mixed congregations, and the fact that mosques generally either have some objectionably source of funding and there are no free lunchs. So if Saudis are sponsoring, or the Ayatollahs, or the Deobandis (big in India/Pakistan, the UK and South Africa and directly linked to the the education and facilitation of Taliban and their ideology). So with funding and support comes specific interpretations and ideologies.

    All in all it is for a group that totally agrees. Anyone who feels differently – as a muslim – will not be allowed. And to me the purpose of mosques should be unity despite religious sectarian affiliation, gender, race or other. Arabs, Africans and Pakistanis all have their own mosques.

    It would be great to walk into a mosque, that unites and has no one universal ideology other than the accommodation of various types of Muslims as interpretation is individual. I may not agree with them all, but I wouldn’t mind sharing the same space. Alternate services etc.

    Alas, that is a dream. That will never come true. The Quran says something wise, Until muslims change their hearts and lead by example, they can not expect their surroundings to change. Muslims need to learn that just taking is not ok, you also have to give. Meet halfway. Find middle ways where possible. And sometimes not insisting out of staunch stubbornness.

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