City of Brass

City of Brass


The politics of mosques

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I’ve been visiting my parents this weekend in Chicago and immersing myself in Ramadan at our masjid – there’s a serenity and a rigour to arriving at the masjid two hours prior to sunset, reading the Qur’an, engaging in communal recitation of sipara (chapters), and then offering the maghrib (sunset) salaat with the imam leading the prayer, prior to breaking the fast with some flavored milk, dates, and cookies. It’s a dream of mine to one day spend the full 30 days of Ramadan in Egypt or India and fully immerse myself in these rhythms for the entire month. 

Of course, politics does not fast during Ramadan and so the Park51 project continues to engender controversy. A few links of note:
Two stories in Politico do a great job of detailing the emergent consensus of the Republicans as the anti-Islam party in American politics. From the first, “GOP Takes Harsher Stance Towards Islam“, 
Republican leaders have largely abandoned former President George W. Bush’s post-Sept. 11 rhetorical embrace of American Muslims and his insistence — always controversial inside the party — that Islam is a religion of peace. This weekend, former Bush aides were among the very few Republicans siding with Obama, as many of the party’s leaders have moved toward more vocal denunciations of Islam’s role in violence abroad and suspicion of its place at home.
(emphasis mine). Where I take issue is the suggestion that Obama’s defense of the Park51 project’s right to build was somehow the catalyst for this. In fact, the GOP War on Muslims has had a long, steadily increasing increase for quite some time. And there’s been a unanimity of opposition from all the 2012 Republican presidential contenders as well, predating Obama’s comments. 
The second Politico article does go into some detail on how the GOP is exploiting Obama’s comments, which was not unexpected given that the President basically flouted all political considerations (and unlike Glenn Greenwald, I don’t really fault him for the partial walk back.)
Polling indicates that the mosque proposal is unpopular among voters, with a recent CNN survey showing that 68 percent of voters disapproving of the plan. But a top White House official told POLITICO Obama was determined to raise the issue, even though he knew polls were decisively against the mosque.
“We had no illusions about this. He didn’t take this on as a political strategy. He took it on because it was a matter of fundamental principle. One of the reasons we work for him is that he doesn’t sit there with a political calculator on these big, tough issues that come along. There was never any hesitation about the decision, and he has absolutely no regrets about it,” the official said.
“He understands the emotions swirling around it and the horrific events that occurred there. But he doesn’t believe shifting from our moorings as a country on questions like religious freedom — treating one faith differently than another — is the right answer. It would be a betrayal of who we are.”
Betraying core American values is unfortunately good politics nowadays. Josh Barro has a tremendous essay which points out how Republicans are indeed betraying conservative principles with their opposition at all costs strategy to the Park51 project:
Conservatives rightly bristle at the federal government’s micromanagement of land in the American West, with the highest profile example being the closure of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. So why should we invite the feds into land use review in Manhattan? What New York allows to be built in its Financial District is not the federal government’s business.
What I find bizarre about some of the conservative response to Cordoba House is not just the objection to the construction of the mosque, but the conviction that it should be stopped by any means necessary–even if that means violating conservative principles about property rights, rule of law, and federalism. 
He also goes on to demolish several conservative talking points about the project being “at ground zero”, the height of the building, and the conflation of American muslims with foreign terrorists. It’s a must-read essay – if only for the line, “Islam has 1.2 billion adherents and is not going away.” Indeed. 
All of this makes the minaret in the 2012 RNC Convention logo rather ironic :)


  • Alicia

    Thanks for the links, Aziz. This quote from Bruce Bartlett, posted by Andrew on the Daily Dish last week, perfectly sums up how I feel about the Republican Party today. Islam has become, for these folks, the new McCarthyism. As for “conservative principles,” they don’t have any. Which gives them a certain strategic advantage over people who do have principles.
    “In my own mind, I have the same political philosophy I’ve always had–basically libertarian but tempered by Burkean small-C conservatism. But I am no longer a member of the Republican Party and no longer consider myself part of the “conservative movement.” That’s not because I changed, but because I believe that they have. The Republican Party of today is not the party of Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan that I was once a member of; it stands for nothing except the pursuit of power as an end in itself, with no concern whatsoever for what is right for the country. In a recent interview with The Economist magazine, I characterized the Republicans as the greedy, sociopathic party. I stand by that,” – Bruce Bartlett, economic adviser under Reagan and H.W. Bush.

  • Joanne
  • Sidney

    “A moderate Islamic terrorist is most in demand by people who are looking to surrender. They just wish there was someone reasonable around for them to surrender to.”

  • c

    All muslims need a free plane ticket to the middle east,after 9/11 They are all a threat.If they want to blow up an airliner then let it be one filled with muslims and their korans and all other muslim crap.

  • nnmns

    Good analysis Alicia. I was brought up a conservative Republican. The conservatism I shed on my own. The Republican party shifted on its own. When the Democrats disowned their bigots from the southern wing the Republicans grabbed them up and have been happily espousing their (lack of) principles ever since.

  • Linda

    Just because there is a legal right to do something does not make it the right thing to do. Do you not agree?

  • nnmns

    Linda do you mean the Republicans and Fox splitting the American electorate so they can terrorize and enrage enough to vote them into power? Is that what you note is not the right thing to do? If so, I certainly agree. It’s anti-American.

  • Alicia

    Thanks, nnmns. My father was a liberal Republican (though, because of his opposition to the Vietnam War, he eventually changed to Democrat, I believe). The GOP used to deserve the mantle of “the party of adults” at least in some respects.
    Hi, Linda. The argument against the mosque that says that the Cordoba Initiative should “respect the sensitivities of Americans” and build Cordoba House somewhere else was advanced on the Today Show this morning by Dick Armey. At least it has the advantage of being a coherent argument, even though I don’t agree with Armey.
    The problem I have is I believe that too many opponents of Cordoba House conflate Islam with radical Islam. There is a genuine problem with various strains of radical Islam (actually, I prefer the term illiberal forms of Islam) in the world today, and we shouldn’t be naive about them. But, it seems to me that Cordoba House, if it is built, will be the most scrutinized mosque in America, and any hint that the Cordoba House leaders are sympathetic to illiberal forms of Islam will lead to intense criticism. And should. That’s why I support building Cordoba House two blocks from Ground Zero.

  • Your NameJoel

    Just the facts, Imam. A Muslim terrorist attack damaged a building, allowing Muslims to pick it up for a fraction of the price, in order to build a mosque on the spot. Some people might say that sort of thing is tacky. A little like coming by to make an offer on the house, after your cousin murdered the entire family who lived there. Sure, you might claim that you’re not responsible, but it just doesn’t look good. Especially once you start palling around with your cousin, and suggesting that maybe he was just misunderstood. And maybe that family brought it on themselves.
    But the media still insists that Islam had nothing to do with 9/11. Or if it had anything to do with 9/11, it was those “other Muslims”, not these Muslims. The media isn’t really good at explaining the difference between these Muslims and those Muslims. Often the media insists that those Muslims are actually these Muslims. Sometimes they claim that those Muslims are actually not Muslims at all, but people who are upset about foreclosures and work related stress.
    When Malik Hasan opened fire at Fort Hood, the media spent thousands of pounds of ink claiming that he was suffering from some airborne form of PTSD that he picked up from the soldiers he was abusing– all evidence to the contrary. When the Times Square Bomber tried to kill a few thousand New Yorkers, the media claimed that he was upset because his house had been foreclosed on. Inconveniently enough, he turned out to be a Muslim terrorist, complete with his very own Al Queda martyrdom video.
    But the media has never actually said those five little words. “Sorry America, we were wrong.” Because the media is never wrong. Sometimes they’re just technically incorrect. Sometimes the facts just don’t agree with their reality. And the reality can get pretty hazy down on the other side of the Reality Based Community. Especially when there’s enough drugs in the mix. And even when it’s just the liberal Kool Aid talking.
    So when it comes to Muslims, the media doesn’t exactly have a great track record of telling apart “these Muslims” from “those Muslims”. After 9/11 the media did multiple interviews with a kindly and friendly Imam, by the name of Anwar Al-Awlaki. Anwar explained to every media outlet that would listen that Islam is opposed to terrorism and anyone who thinks otherwise misunderstood one of those 12,000 “You Shall Smite the Infidel” verses in the Koran. After doing enough interviews on NPR and PBS, Anwar Al-Awlaki is hiding from US drones somewhere in Yemen, and has been linked to both the Fort Hood Massacre and the Times Square Bomber.
    You might think that Anwar Al-Awlaki snapped after enough appearances on PBS and NPR, whose soft calming music and lobotomized hosts could turn anyone into a terrorist, but Al-Awlaki was actually advising the 9/11 hijackers, even before the attacks happened. So when Anwar Al-Awlaki was telling the press that Islam is opposed to terrorism, he was asking them to ignore everything the FBI and CounterJihadi sites had found. Which they happily did.
    What that all adds up to is that the media’s proven ability to handicap who is or isn’t a Muslim terrorist is about as good as Crazy Blind Louie’s ability to handicap horse races in China, when he doesn’t speak Chinese and has been trapped in a coma for the last 3 years. At this point if the media tells you that someone isn’t a Muslim terrorist, the Vegas odds are on the side of him being Osama bin Laden’s right hand man. If the media tells you that an Imam is moderate, run to within 50 feet away to avoid the shrapnel.
    The media’s approach to Islamic terrorism is a lot like Pat Buchanan’s approach to the Holocaust. They will concede that terrorism probably does exist, and it might involve Muslims, but it’s not as bad as people make it out to be, there’s a lot of context, and anyway look at the history of it. It’s not as if we’re defending them, except we’re writing all these articles explaining how we shouldn’t have been fighting them in the first place. And really what did we get out of the war anyway?
    Finally the media plays its trump card. Religious freedom. It’s in the Constitution, Man! And who has never doubted the media’s commitment to religious freedom, except when it comes to prayer in schools or in the military. Or their commitment to the Bill of Rights, which they would die for, except for the parts they don’t like very much.
    Certainly the media has a point, when it argues that it’s wrong to claim that a house of worship shouldn’t be built, because it’s offensive. The media has never been known to do that. Except when they actually claim that houses of worship can be destroyed, because they’re offensive.
    5 years ago, the good Muslims of Gaza decided to torch a bunch of synagogues. Naturally the media got very outraged about it. Well, not exactly. The media actually enthusiastically endorsed the burning of synagogues. Why? Because synagogues in Gaza are innately offensive.
    While a synagogue was being vandalized by a gleeful Muslim mob, CNN’s Matthew Chance explained:
    This structure behind me –very controversial because it is the Jewish synagogue in the middle of Netzarim. The Israeli cabinet, of course, voting to leave those synagogues standing, very much angering the Palestinian Authority, because they know that these buildings are seen very much by the vast majority of Palestinians as potent symbols of the Israeli occupation and could not be protected or even left standing. And so we’re seeing very sensitive scenes here over the past few hours as the Palestinian security forces move the civilians out of that synagogue and move their bulldozers in to take away these structures, again, seen as hated symbols of the Israeli occupation.
    A mere 5 years ago, CNN justified the destruction of Jewish synagogues because they’re offensive. It described the destruction of a House of Worship as “take away these structures”, a lovely euphemism that Goebbels probably couldn’t have improved on. A euphemism that suggests the synagogue was being taken somewhere for a walk. Or maybe to a better place. Instead of being crudely demolished, after it had been burned and ransacked by a Muslim mob.
    But today CNN can’t fathom the media that someone would find building a house of worship offensive, particularly when it’s built next to a virtual cemetery of the victims of that particular brand of worship. Yet in 2005, CNN was willing to justify the actual destruction of a house of worship because it’s “offensive”. What a difference 5 years and a different religion makes.
    But perhaps CNN could extend the same “sensitivity” they displayed for the mobs of Gaza, to their fellow Americans, who might conceivably view a mosque near Ground Zero as “a symbol of occupation”. One that would have to be taken away very sensitively. Perhaps all the way back to Mecca. Sensitively, of course.
    And this wasn’t some sort of bizarre CNN fluke either. This is how Reuters gleefully painted the scene: “Attacking symbols of the hated Israeli occupation, youths set ablaze several of the synagogues”. And here’s a lovely one from the London Telegraph: “The skies were yet to be lit by the rising sun when the first flames from burning synagogues could be seen, set alight by Palestinians incensed by years when the Israeli army ruthlessly defended the settlements.” It’s amazing how much poetry is called up from the journalistic soul at the sight of burning synagogues. If you didn’t know any better, you might actually think they enjoyed seeing synagogues destroyed.
    But of course that would be ridiculous. I mean just take a look at this excitable chunk of prose from Ken Ellingwood and Laurie King: “Many vented their fury over the occupation by laying waste to the synagogues that Israeli authorities chose to leave standing. At the Neve Dekalim synagogue, a hulking Star of David-shaped building visible from miles away, a club-wielding crowd had descended by early morning to smash every window and tear insulation from the walls and ceilings.” You get the feeling that Ken and Laurie would have been just as excited to be up and about during Kristallnacht. And if Ken or Laurie had decided to take a club to that hateful Star of David shaped building, surely no one would have been too surprised.
    But I direct your attention to more than just the purple prose. When Ken and Laurie and CNN and Reuters and the Telegraph don’t like synagogues, then they’re “hulking”, destroying them becomes a matter of “sensitively” “taking them down” and the synagogues have it coming, because those damn Jews “chose to leave them standing.”
    It’s clear that the media has no problem understanding resentment toward a “House of Worship”. As long as it’s Muslim resentment toward a non-Muslim house of worship.
    The same blatant dishonesty and historical revisionism that was on display when Muslims destroyed 26 Jewish synagogues in Gaza, was also on display when Muslims destroyed 150 churches in Kosovo. Or the 170 Hindu temples destroyed in Kashmir in the last 20 years.
    If a Koran falls into a toilet somewhere, it will be on the front page of the New York Times. If a 100 churches or synagogues burn, look for it somewhere on page A18, under the Grey Goose ad and just above a story about nesting pelicans in Bangalore. Three paragraphs. No photo.
    Today the same people who whitewashed, excused and even celebrated the Muslim desecration and destruction of synagogues, churches and temples are absolutely shocked that anyone would object to building a mosque near Ground Zero. What kind of people would dare object to a house of worship. I mean besides Muslims anyway. It’s Un-American. And you know what is American? Putting up a massive building dedicated to an ideology of murder, where the ashes of its victims drifted on the cold September wind.
    That my friends is American. Not the “American” of George Washington or Theodore Roosevelt or the firefighters and police officers who somehow made it up a hundred stories to rescue people they had never met. No, it’s the “American” of Benedict Arnold, Norman Cousins and the ACLU board of directors. And of course that great All-Time Champion of Americanism, Barack Hussein Obama. Barry, who thinks the Muslim call to prayer is the prettiest sound on earth. And the Constitution is a dim buzz in his ear.
    Just the Facts, Imam. Here 3,000 Americans were murdered. For working in offices or visiting them. For being members of the NYPD or the PAPD or the FDNY. For putting on a uniform or a suit. For living their lives. And then the walls and floors and furniture around them burned. The papers in their hands burned. Their bodies burned. The ashes drifted down narrow streets. Streets where George Washington and his men once passed to visit Fraunces Tavern and toward Broadway where the Iranian hostages rode back in a ticker tape parade on their return.
    Now the money that nourished their killers, will help erect a mosque. A temple of death by the ashes of the dead. And the media is outraged that we won’t allow it. That we won’t stand for it. The same media that stood and grinned while Muslims burned synagogues, churches and temples. That tells us that the Muslim terrorists who try to kill us are not really Muslims. Just going through a midlife crisis, picked up some PTSD from some bad coffee or was just having a bad day. Because we are not equal. On their farm, some animals are more equal than others. Some have the right to kill, others only have the right to be killed. Some have the right to build houses of worship, others have the right to build and to burn what others labor to build. Some have the right to be offensive, others only the right to be silent.
    The dead of 9/11 are silent now. Or rather they have been silenced. As countless millions have before them were silenced. With flame and sword. In mass graves and at spearpoint. Tortured and mutilated. Torn apart with bombs. The dead cannot speak out against their murderers, but we can. The dead cannot protest, but we can. It is our duty to stand up and speak out. This is our place. Our land and our city. These are the streets where they tried to kill us. These are the streets where they will try again. To speak out is to defy those who would kill us and claim our cities as their own. Who would build monuments to their own victory over the ashes of our dead.
    First they bomb. Now they occupy. We have lived through the bombing. And now we rise to defy the occupation.

  • Alicia

    Hi, Joel,
    You may have made some worthwhile points in your post. But it is so long that it just seems like a rant, and does not invite a response. In fact, it is hard to take in such a long post. Obviously you are passionate, but if you want to have a discussion, a shorter post might work better.

  • Frank

    “First they bomb. Now they occupy. We have lived through the bombing. And now we rise to defy the occupation.”
    Only a moron can type those words without seeing they apply more to Baghdad, than to downtown Manhattan.

  • Linda

    Alicia – since you like short points, answer me – do you think two wrongs makes something right?

  • Frank

    Linda,
    Two wrongs don’t make a right, but three lefts do.

  • Alicia

    Hi, Linda,
    Perhaps you can explain what the second wrong is? I assume the first is what happened on 9/11. There is no doubt that what happened on that date was evil personified. But, what is the second wrong? I’m not being snide, I really want to know if you regard Islam itself as “wrong”? In which case I assume you are opposed to all mosques, anywhere?

  • nnmns

    Ok, how many here are opposed to all religions except Christianity? All religions except their kind of Christianity? If we toss a religion out because somewhere some adherents of it attacked the US we’d toss out lots of religions, including Christianity.

  • Linda

    Alicia – I asked a hypothetical question to show you that just because others have been insensitive does not really justify or excuse the Muslims being insensitive to the victims of the twin towers.
    You have still not answered my question, will you?

  • Frank

    The politics of mosques indeed. Before worshipers at the huge Osama Bin Laden funded al-Farouq mosque in Brooklyn bombed the World Trade Center in 1993, they pipe-bombed a gay bar called “Uncle Charlie’s” as a warm-up act.
    I’m hoping that another Uncle Charlie’s opens across the street from Cordoba House.
    http://www.nytimes.com/1995/01/14/nyregion/man-accused-in-terror-plot-bombed-gay-bar-us-says.html?pagewanted=1?pagewanted=1

  • Your NameJoel

    Dear Frank,
    You are a cheap, lying, no good, rotten, floor-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, d*ckless, hopeless, heartless, fat-*ss, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed, sack of monkey sh*t .

  • nnmns

    This discussion has descended to the level of Republicans. I’m gone.

  • Alicia

    Hi, Linda,
    Sorry not to respond before now, but I’ve been away from the computer since yesterday evening. My problem with your statement is that all the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims, and more specifically, American Muslims, are not responsible for what happened on 9/11. Your premise seems to be that, because a small group of terrorist fanatics attacked us on 9/11, all Muslims should be held responsible and for Muslims to want to worship is an affront to the victims of 9/11.
    I don’t believe in collective guilt or collective responsibility. If I thought building Cordoba House was “a wrong” then I would certainly agree with you that two wrongs don’t make a right.
    This “Ground Zero mosque” controversy has been deliberately exploited by hate mongers. I feel about it exactly as I felt about the Danish cartoon controversy, when a small group of radical imams went on a tour deliberately stirring up frenzy in the Muslim world over a group of cartoons. It was wrong then when it was directed at Denmark by Muslims, and it is wrong now when it is directed at American Muslims by the Right Wing.

  • Daniel

    Anyone who knows the history of Islam knows that they build mosques at the sites of “conquest”, such as the Park51 mosque at ground zero.
    Common sense should tell us that it is ethically and morally “wrong” to build this mosque. It is a slap in the face to our nation.
    Islam does not allow the building of Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or other religious places of worship in Muslim nations, such as Saudi Arabia.
    How can the members of the Muslim faith argue for fair treatment of their faith when the actions of their “leaders” show no respect for other faiths?
    I can assure you that there are many people in Muslim nations who are laughing at us here in the US. They laugh at how weak we are and how we are like dogs and just roll over for them.
    It is embarrassing to know that there are fellow countrymen who do not see this mosque for what it truly means to the Muslim world.

  • Daniel

    Also-Look up the history of Cordoba. What is Cordoba? Where is it? What is its’ significance? How does it relate to ground zero?

  • Alicia

    Daniel,
    Here is a link to an excellent article on the history of Cordoba:
    http://gotmedieval.blogspot.com/2010/08/professor-newts-distorted-history.html

  • Alicia

    And here is a quote about Cordoba from Christopher Hitchens, no friend of religion or of radical Islam:
    “I notice that even the choice of the name Cordoba has offended some Christian opponents of the scheme. This wonderful city in Andalusia, after the Muslim conquest of southern Spain, was indeed one of the centers of the lost Islamic caliphate that today’s jihadists have sworn in blood to restore. And after the Catholic reconquista, it was also one of the places purged of all Arab and Jewish influence by the founders of the Inquisition.
    But in the interval between these two imperialisms it was also the site of an astonishing cultural synthesis, best associated with the names of Averroes ibn-Rushd and Moses Maimonides. (The finest recent book on the subject is María Rosa Menocal’s The Ornament of the World.) Here was a flourishing of philosophy and medicine and architecture that saw, among other things, the recovery of the works of Aristotle.”

  • Anon

    I don’t think that the plan should go forward at its current location. I don’t think it will be a victory for bigotry and offer a sense that fear of Muslims can be permitted. I really see the central controversial issue of this project to be sensitivity of location — nothing more. I agree that American Muslims should not have to be associated with the evil acts of AlQaeda. Honestly though, we haven’t done enough to educate the public about us, so the idea that this may make people who are even liberal minded feel uncomfortable and squeamish is something we ought to not discount.
    I actually think that by agreeing to compromise and to relocate, the developers would show that Muslims want to partner with the community and not bow down and forsake their rights nor say to hell with everyone and continue forward. In the end, I absolutely disagree with you that “surely [it will bring] longer term pain.” If anything, I think it will be a good foundation for longer term understanding. This project is different from the anti-mosque uproars across the US. This one is specifically about the nostalgic painful memory of Ground Zero for Americans, including American Muslims. We are being unfair when we conflate the circumstances. And we ought not to be condescending and reactionary in our consideration.
    But to get to the part about ridiculous PR: the stubbornness of the organizers is to me a terrible reflection on American Muslims. Sherif ElGamal and the gang at Twitter Park51 deserve criticism for their unwillingness to even think about compromise and their public missteps.
    I can understand the reactions of Muslims, especially in New York. They see a lot of this from of the view point of people who have been wronged and harangued. American Muslims share the deep horror of 9/11. Our lives were impacted significantly as well — collective guilt was placed on our shoulders and a religion that teaches us compassion, which teaches us to be better human beings, was and continues to be hijacked. From that defensive position, it can be easy to feel reactionary.
    The intent of the developers, however hapless and naive their strategy has been, was one of good will: to help in the rebuilding process, to serve the community of Lower Manhattan, to build bridges of understanding and tolerance between cultures and faiths.
    So it is ironic, but not surprising, that a project whose end is to advocate understanding has set sail with stunning communication gaps.
    Muslim leadership right now needs a LOT of work. Daisy Khan said at the community meeting in NY that the location was “no big deal.” Well, it is. Sherif ElGamal is flat out twisting reality with his claim that the center is no where near Ground Zero. Um, it is. His slightly arrogant assertion that this will be the most famous mosque/cultural center complex in the world makes his stubbornness and unwillingness to relocate less sympathetic. The twiter folk at first were like, we’re not going to be engaging during Ramadan. They have improved since their early snarkiness, but they still need work. Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR recently blamed the tea party for “releasing the inner bigot” and blamed it for much of the anti-Islamic response. With that statement, Mr. Hooper is guilty of the same broad-based strokes of intolerance that he condemns on his own community. More frequently, a lot of Muslims, including the interns at the twitter account and other spokesmen for CAIR, keep saying “When a non-Muslim commits an act of terror, no one refers to his religion.” Look, if we’re honest with ourselves (and by the way, I completely agree with your position that Faisal Shahzad and Nidal were isolated from the Muslim community; communities are helpful to moderate views), Islam is linked to these radical acts in a way that is greater than whatever analogies are set forth, because they seek Islamic justification and buy into twisted tafsir more perceptibly.
    The sense of feeling victimized is what is leading the interns and organizers of Park51 to label everyone who doesn’t agree with them as bigots. They’re not. We can’t expect people to commiserate with us, and not commiserate with other people. I know it’s frustrating when people call this a monument to Muslim triumphalism, when if anything, Cordoba for Muslims holds connotations of cooperation, not conquest. And New York Muslims do face a discriminatory climate in their daily lives that leaves them feeling jaded more than those of us Muslims in suburban areas (I know because I’ve been there for a bit). But when we’re reacting from a reactionary posture instead of a compassionate posture, that reflects badly on all American Muslims.
    I like what Rami Nashashibi said: “Whether it’s the Niqab in France, minarets in Switzerland or mosques across the US, the deeper pathologies underlying these obsessions in turn generate an unhealthy and disproportionate amount of reactive posturing on part of the Muslim community and those coming to its defense. The end result is a lot of public discourse about Muslim rituals and places of ritual as opposed to the general effort of Muslims in this country to be forces for good and transformation.”
    The smarter course of action, the one that best serves all American Muslims, and our children above all who will face the ramifications of our actions, good or bad, is to urge the developers to compromise and to relocate. I believe it will make us look stronger, compassionate, and cooperative members of the American fabric — the exact goals that the center claims to want to promote.
    It’s frustrating, because I don’t know how to reach them with this message, and like you said, there has been a paucity of American Muslim voices to add nuance to the discussion.
    But I ask us to relay this message to the developers, and I urge them please, to relocate this center to a different part of Manhattan.

  • svh

    Joel, Islam is not a monolothic entity. There is no central authority. There are as many slaughter your enemy quotes in the bible as in the Koran. Do you want to compare body counts of innocent Americans killed by “Muslim” terrorists versus innocent Muslims killed by America? Have you spent any time in places with predominantly Muslim populations?
    It wasn’t that long ago the western media made Iranians appear like they were all black clad robots blindly following mullahs and hating on the west. You don’t still believe that do you? This last year, an awful lot of Muslims were among those who marched for and died for freedom and democracy. Millions in fact.

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