Imam Rauf missed an important opportunity. Instead, of coming forward and becoming the ‘bridge-builder’ that he so often proclaims to be, he told CNN that there’s no plan to move the Cordoba House project – building a $100 million dollar mosque at the site of Ground Zero.
Of course, the Imam does not consider the site where the building is located to be Ground Zero. That’s unfortunate since the landing gear of one of the hijacked planes crashed through the roof of the building on 9-11. And, now, even new reports that human remains from that fateful day have been discovered just steps away from the building.
But what caught my attention and is still resonating from his interview are his comments interjecting the claim that our national security is at risk if the mosque is not built at that site.
These comments are not only offensive to the 9-11 victims’ families and friends, but to an overwhelming majority of Americans who don’t want the mosque built at Ground Zero.
His comments were insensitive and divisive. He cannot deny the fact that this is sacred and hallowed ground. And his desire to move forward with the project is simply not in the best interest of the families and friends of the 9-11 victims or the American people.
All of this, of course, has spawned tremendous media coverage – and sideshows – like the Florida pastor and others who threaten to burn the Koran. Such actions are despicable – they are divisive and insensitive as well. They have no place in this debate.
But, the focus right now should be on the Imam, the developers, and financial backers of the project. With rapidly changing developments, there are signs that not all mosque supporters are on the same page. There are reports that mosque backers may be divided and that the chief investor in the site is willing to sell.
And it’s apparent, as we commemorate the 9th anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks of 9-11, that this issue is not going away any time soon.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani says “sensitivity is a two-way street.” In an opinion editorial, the former Mayor said: “Many have expressed misgivings and even fear about locating a mosque so close to the site where thousands of Americans were slaughtered by Islamic extremists. The vast majority with legitimate concerns – including me – should not be automatically lumped in with the small minority who have expressed more strident opinions about the mosque and about Islam in general.”
The fact is most Americans are tolerant. And most Americans understand that this location – at the site of Ground Zero – is not the place to build a mosque. Will the Imam come to that conclusion?
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