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Belief Beat

The Case for Breaking Hallowed Ground: Israel’s Muslim Cemetery, NYC’s Lower Manhattan

With President Obama throwing his constitutional law support behind the proposal to build an Islamic cultural center (community center, mosque, etc.) a few blocks from Ground Zero, the debate seems to have just gotten even more heated. Given that some Americans — presumably including those staunchly opposed to this project — still think he’s a closet Muslim, perhaps he should have just sat this one out? Then again, opponents also got upset at Mayor Michael Bloomberg for supporting Park 51/Cordoba House, and he’s about as relevant to the debate (and not a closet Muslim — he refuses to give Muslim holidays to the NYC public school calendar) as it gets.

Meanwhile, over in Israel, CNN reports that a historic Muslim cemetery is being bulldozed to make way for a Museum of Tolerance (seriously?), plus a parking lot and govermment building.

Ah, religious land use issues. Where to draw the line at what a group can legally do, and what a group should morally do?

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

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posted August 16, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Unfortunately many people still think the the Muslim terrorist represents the typical Muslim. I believe the purpose behind the center is to improve American Muslim/non Muslim relations. But I think for many Americans this is going to have the opposite effect.

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posted August 16, 2010 at 2:50 pm

American Muslim/non Musilm relations would be greatly improved by allowing a Baptist church in Mecca.

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posted August 16, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Islam didn’t fly planes into buildings on 9/11 — a small group of radical Muslims did.
Opposing a mosque near Ground Zero equates 1.2 billion Muslims with the small group of fanatics who attacked us on 9/11. Is radical Islam a problem? Yes, you bet it is. The way to defang the radicals is to support moderate and liberal voices within Islam, and declaring that Islam is incompatible with American values is not the way to go.

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Moin Haque

posted August 16, 2010 at 4:02 pm

As an American Muslim and native New Yorker, I am deeply distressed by this increasingly destructive debate over a physical center near the World Trade Center site. Having such a debate itself should suffice and silence any concerns about religious freedom in the United States as I would not expect such openness in self-professed “Muslim” states.
What distresses me, as a Muslim, is how the tenets of a mosque are being disregarded. While serving as a place to connect and commune, another key goal of a mosque, being physical in nature, has always been to reflect acceptance of the host community. This is clearly in question here as the passionate displays in the streets have shown.
If the goal is to improve relations, why not follow an even more pronounced practice in Islam: charity and service? Investing the $100 million into community development, shelters, education, food programs, etc., does more to push forward the ideals of unity and service than any physical structure could and helps guide the entire community towards the ultimate goal of ensuring the freedom and dignity of every living being.
As American Muslims, and specifically those in New York, we need to raise the voice of compassion and connection. As Muslims, we are not restricted in where, when, and how we should pray, for no formulation for prayer has been put forth in the Qur’an other than to be mindful when we do. As Americans, we are not limited in any such capacity either. So why not use the monies to build walls rather than cement the fractured landscape with compassion and love for the communities and the neighbors we call home?

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Robert C

posted August 16, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Perhaps the best way to defang the radicals is to denounce them vociferously from every existing mosque in islam. Perhaps if women were held to a higher regard amongst the moderates, if gay people weren’t stoned to death in many muslim countries, and if Israel’s right to exist were preached then maybe Islam would be more in tune with American values and a mosque would be less threatening no matter where it might be proposed to be built.

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Moin Haque

posted August 16, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Excuse my last statement, as I got a bit impassioned myself… what I meant to state was why use the monies to build walls? We should use them to cement the fractured landscape with compassion and love for the communities and the neighbors we call home. (I am practicing mindful commenting going forward.)

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posted August 16, 2010 at 4:58 pm


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A Morris

posted August 16, 2010 at 4:59 pm

This article contains inaccurate information. Israel destroyed 300 fake graves that were being used in order to encroach upon public land. The cemetery in question has not been used for burials since 1927. Workers who were supposed to be involved in the upkeep of the Muslim cemetery were witnessed adding new “graves” which then caused the cemetery grounds to suddenly overlap the land allotted for the museum. The Israeli government called in archeologists to help them to determine which graves were authentic. Only the newly added ones were removed. Many of new grave “markers” were in fact just pieces of stone arranged to look like graves. Underneath, they just found irrigation hoses, empty plastic plastic bottles, and other things that you might find on the ground in the park that these “graves” were encroaching upon.

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Robert C

posted August 16, 2010 at 7:33 pm


posted August 16, 2010 at 10:09 pm

The Constitution is very clear on this issue as well as private property owners rights. Beyond that we are turning into a hateful reactionary country. The media has ALL of us fighting so they can make money. We’re better than that.

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posted August 17, 2010 at 12:28 am


posted August 17, 2010 at 10:13 am

“Perhaps the best way to defang the radicals is to denounce them vociferously from every existing mosque in islam.”
Maybe when Christians start doing the same thing, Islam will follow their good example.

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posted August 17, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Thank you Robert C for the article we could click on. If it is so, they the Muslims, are showing an empathy for the fighting people throughout the country. This should help appease all the mistrust and fear they all have, but will it? It will be interesting to see what will eventually inhabit this bldg., two blocks from ground zero.

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posted August 17, 2010 at 1:03 pm

In the news about two weeks ago I understand Muslims executed 10 Americans, some doctors, just for being Christian and we are supposed to be tolerant to Muslims. Please, someone explain this to me.

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Robert C

posted August 17, 2010 at 1:06 pm

lmao the last time the Pope mentioned Islam they threatened to kill him, nevertheless I’d try to hike up a manara to denounce those radical taliban boy molesters but I’d probably not get very far.
Thanks Henrietta. Harry Reid has pull.

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Robert C

posted August 17, 2010 at 7:23 pm

I am not sure that many are getting the point yet, but aside from a rare compliment to CNN for actually being more balanced on the topic, here is a disturbing piece on what will eventually happen to all western countries, if it hasn’t happened in many by now.!

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posted August 18, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Robert C
Please, don’t think that citing a Youtube video supplies any credence for an argument. There is not credibility on Youtube.
Which Muslims did this? It is just as possible to cite attrocities against Muslims, Hindus, and any number of other people, all done by “christians”. We are not all the same and neither is any other religious or ethnic group. Broad swipes of black paint do nothing more than underscore the painter’s ignorance.
My hope is that the tolerance and care being shown by American Muslims will become a model and motivator for Muslims around the world. Only they can choose to turn from the Taliban, we cannot force them.

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Robert C

posted August 18, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Name a recent “atrocity” carried out by “christians”. The point is not Christianity, it is the intent of radical Islam. There are no “christians” immigrating en masse to Ridyah with the intent to implement anything, let alone canon law. This video can easily be posted with the same scenes from any number of other west European nations. Fact: 57% of all babies born in Brussels are muslim. Fact:by 2025 Islam will supercede christianity as the largest religion in the world due to purposeful overbreeding. Fact: Largely through immigration, the Muslim population of the United States grew sixfold between 1972 and 1990. Fact:seven percent of babies born in European Union countries were Muslims. Fact: today more than half the population of Algeria is under the age of twenty and this situation is similar elsewhere. These young populations will reproduce and perpetuate the increase of Muslims on a percentage basis well into the next millennium. These facts are from an Islamic site.
Unless non radical muslims reject, control and ostracize their radical factions the situation will become explosive. But then again by defering such actions and seeking to inflame passions isn’t that the intent?

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Robert C

posted August 24, 2010 at 2:19 pm


posted August 24, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Peoples of minority belief practices are understandably leery of Islamists because of their histories with Islamic conquest and rule.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid, a onetime member of Jemaah Islamiya, an Islamist terrorist group, is a medical doctor and Muslim reformer living in the West, said in an April, 2007 WSJ article:
“It is vital to grasp that traditional and even mainstream Islamic teaching accepts and promotes violence. Shariah, for example, allows apostates to be killed, permits beating women to discipline them, seeks to subjugate non-Muslims to Islam as dhimmis and justifies declaring war to do so. It exhorts good Muslims to exterminate the Jews before the “end of days.” The near deafening silence of the Muslim majority against these barbaric practices is evidence enough that there is something fundamentally wrong.
“The grave predicament we face in the Islamic world is the virtual lack of approved, theologically rigorous interpretations of Islam that clearly challenge the abusive aspects of Shariah. Unlike Salafism, more liberal branches of Islam, such as Sufism, typically do not provide the essential theological base to nullify the cruel proclamations of their Salafist counterparts. …
“Well-meaning interfaith dialogues with Muslims have largely been fruitless. Participants must demand–but so far haven’t–that Muslim organizations and scholars specifically and unambiguously denounce violent Salafi components in their mosques and in the media. Muslims who do not vocally oppose brutal Shariah decrees should not be considered “moderates.” …
Tolerance does not mean toleration of atrocities under the umbrella of relativism. It is time for all of us in the free world to face the reality of Salafi Islam or the reality of radical Islam will continue to face us.

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Robert C

posted September 2, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Take a few minutes to view this video. You might learn something but you may not want to know it.

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