Belief Beat

As a religion reporter who lived in Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001, I’ve followed the Ground Zero mosque debate with interest. Given the city’s incredible diversity, not to mention the range of beliefs and cultures among America’s Muslims, it’s disappointing that so much of the dialogue, and by extension the coverage, makes this a black-and-white issue. 

Is it a slap in the face or a symbol of hope to open an Islamic center in a neighborhood where thousands of people were killed by Muslim extremists? For what it’s worth, some New Yorkers and others directly affected by the 9/11 attacks also take issue with the souvenir hawking, tourist gawking, memorial design, and — as repeatedly observed by famous downtown resident Jon Stewart — the fact that the area is still under construction. It’s complicated, as usual.

But with mosque debates now also raging in Brooklyn and Staten Island, along with today’s coverage of the defiantly guilty plea from would-be Times Square bomber and self-proclaimed “Muslim soldier” Faisal Shahzad, there are certainly plenty of headlines to choose from if you’re interested in the contentious situation for Muslims and New Yorkers these days.

Some links that highlight the diviseness and complexity of the mosque debates:

Beliefnet’s Rod Dreher, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield and Mark Silk have also weighed in.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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