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Are All Ground Zero Mosques Created Equal(ly Objectionable)?

(Updated to add the link to my Tim Brown interview and the Q&A with the Park51 developer of the Cordoba House plan.)

Check out my Religion News Service story about Cordoba House, the proposed “Ground Zero mosque.” (A native New Yorker, I can’t help but channel that classic SNL “Coffee Talk” sketch: It’s neither at Ground Zero, nor a mosque. Discuss!) For more on the criticism of this proposal, check out my Q&A with retired NYC firefighter Tim Brown (see photo), one of the opposition leaders to the project. For a counterpoint, check out my colleague Aziz Poonwalla’s Q&A with one of the developers, at Beliefnet’s City of Brass blog.


brownwtc.jpgI’ve spent hours walking around lower Manhattan lately, marveling at all the changes in the past year, let alone decade. Personally, given that my Sept. 11 experience involved frantically waiting for my now-husband to make his way from the ash cloud up to my Morningside Heights apartment, I’m relieved to see that life did, after all, go on down there. Professionally, after talking with the nervous worshippers at Masjid Manhattan, a mosque that has quietly been operating near Ground Zero for years, and meeting with Brown, I wondered how many more shiny new buildings and decades it will take before a visible Muslim organization could move there without much fuss.


Perhaps that will be the real sign that our wounds have healed. On the other hand, where do you draw the line between healing and moving on (but not forgetting)? And on a related note: is Islamophobia easier or harder to overcome in extremely multicultural yet directly-hit New York City than in other mosque-protesting places like Wisconsin and Tennessee?

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

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posted July 28, 2010 at 1:24 pm

The Cordoba Institute would be two blocks from Ground Zero. Personally, I do not object so long as there are no plans to build a mosque in the footprint of Ground Zero. However, I do have some questions about these plans. Aziz, over on “City of Brass,” has an extended interview with the developer of this planned mosque/community center in which he asks some of these questions, and receives answers.
One question he does not address is why the choice of “The Cordoba Institute” for the name of this center. Historically, I gather, the Moorish-Spanish culture was considered an example of tolerance and pluralism. However, what this leaves out is that that tolerant culture occured after the Moorish invasion and conquest of Spain or parts of Spain. Is that really a good and nonthreatening message to send about Islam? First we conquer, then we tolerate?

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John Coelho

posted July 28, 2010 at 9:17 pm

The real issue is parity. With the exception of a few tolerant muslim groups like the Bosnians and the Ahmadis, few if any mosques should be built in this country. It is impossible and, in Saudi Arabia, illegal to build a non Muslim religious building in most of the Muslim World.
The former residents of those countries should not be allowed to build their mosques here until all the churches, and Buddhist and Hindu Temples are built in those countries where their construction was thwarted.
Eighty percent of the Mosques in this country were built with Saudi money and are stocked with extremist mullahs. Everyone should read Saharasia by James DeMeo and Heretic by Ayaan Hirsi Ali to see the gravity of the threat coming from Islamists in this country..

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Nicole Neroulias

posted July 29, 2010 at 8:30 am

I hadn’t seen the City of Brass interview, Alicia — thanks for letting me know. I’ve added the link.

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posted August 19, 2010 at 3:10 pm

just a short word as a texan thank you for speaking out againstthe muslim crap there are alot of folks across the nation that are on your side thank tim Brown george starek

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