Indeed, an issue that has stirred up a lot of commotion as well as emotions lately, it’s the Muslim community centre near “Ground Zero” dilemma. Many have it that this Muslim community centre constitutes a powerful stab to the parents and friends of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist bombings of the World Trade Center. In contrast, others view the possibilities of witnessing a mosque inaugural near the World Trade Center Site as a mere religious ritual that holds no threats or whatsoever to the pride of the 2752 patriots that fell on September 11. Some have even gone as far as to stipulate and say that this issue comes at a peculiar time to put in question the United States’ real sense of freedom and democracy, stating that this centre is a real test that shall determine whether or not the Americans honour their amendments and whether or not they’re genuinely committed to the obligation of respecting freedom of thought and freedom of speech.
This “New York Mosque” if I might call it has, over the last few months, attracted a lot of political opinions and talks, the issue even erupted to massive demonstrations and even sometimes sporadic “skirmishes” might I call it between the supporters and the people opposing this project. This hot conflict climaxed at the tongue of the U.S president Barrack Obama, who, in a clear statement to national television advocated the Islamic population’s right to building this community centre anywhere in the city. The truth about this so-called mosque is that it is but a small room inside a more massive complex which shall house an Islamic centre made up of 13 storeys, adding to that the fact that it’s a typical building, much like all buildings in Manhattan with no minarets of any kind and stripped of any Islamic paintings or special touches. And as far as the mayor of New York is concerned, consecrating a room for prayers needs no license of any kind let alone the president’s approval. So why all the commotion about erecting a building that’s only meant for worship in the country of democracy and freedom of thought?
Might some opposing Americans be implying that it’s the Islamic population the one to blame for the 9/11 terrorist attacks? As reported by many Arab and Muslim media, the Islamic world is closely monitoring with much interest and thorough what’s happening in the United States, closely awaiting the final verdict that shall settle this controversial issue. Is the present-day United States the United Stated it once was? Is this the America Martin Luther King pictured the one built by our late forefathers, a land free from any racism of any sectarianism, a land which judges people based solely on their person and accomplishments? Or has the United States become a land only for a privileged few, a few of a unique race and a distinct religion, why should we even sink so deeply in the land of opportunity to question one’s moral and religious beliefs in the country of democracy and freedom. In this land, every man is a man not based on the colour of their skin or the tint of morality and beliefs but based on his human identity? Is this the same America they teach us about in the history books, or has it taken a turn? A turn for the worst or the better be it, I’d say Americans now stand at the crossroads of a sharp that is to affect their moralities and values. Do we still want the America that is mandated by no one except the constitution and the amendments? Or do we yearn for a newer America, one that is lead by the crossword games of a few politicians who’d stand at nothing to achieve their goals even if it means striding too close to the constitution and violating with their actions the sacredness of the text that were engraved in blood, sweat and tears by our founding fathers and the painful moments that encompass?
At the moment, it is now clear to everyone that Republicans have used this issue as a powerful weapon to attack the Obama administration in the hopes of achieving better results in the elections which they have, heck even some democrats in congress have not spared the chance to seize this opportunity to present themselves as potential replacements for a more “liberal” Obama.
But has it even crossed anyone’s mind that this political discharge that those politicians are exercising when they attack president Obama may very well lead to a new wave of Islamic extremism especially at a time when the radical right’s rise in U.S politics appears imminent? And of course, since no ordinary witted politician would want that, I’d say that the smart approach to dealing with this dilemma would be in accepting this project as it is, as in letting the New York Muslim community thrive by giving in to the minor demands that would entitle them to have a small room in which they could meet in pray in proximity to Ground Zero as this move has the potential to in turn end years of faithlessness between the Muslims and some Americans that look at everything that has to do with Islam with a certain sense of grief and anger and accusation, for the idea of having a Muslim cultural centre next to Ground Zero would indeed play a big part in giving the right picture about Islam and would have a hand in portraying Islam the way moderate Muslims want it displayed. This is true especially given the fact that the man responsible for the project is a fair renown moderate Muslim who strongly condemns all barbaric acts manifested by the terrorist group Al Qaeda, a man whom the American media referred to several times as the perfect example of the “Moderate Muslim”.
So what sense does it make to declare open war on this man who tries to do nothing except close the gap which has grown larger and larger between the Muslim community and the Americans after the brutal attacks of 9/11 and why do some our fellow Americans refuse to grab this man’s hand so we can all as one rise again as a strong united nation knowing that the effort he’s putting deserves that we admire and even lend a helping hand in helping him bridge the long lost relationship between the different American communities.
And what our fellow Americans must remember is that the Arabs bear no grief or any feeling of hatred towards the United States and that what happened on 9/11 was an act by a terrorist organization that represents no one but itself, an organization that also threatens the Arab world. We must realize that Muslims all over the world have nothing to do with Al Qaeda and that they free of all charges alleged to them whether about the actual bombings or even sympathizing with it. We must know that this fear of Islam is entirely unfounded, as those 19 terrorists that rocked the course of history and the course of the US-Muslim relations represent no one but themselves and that the one billion devout Muslims represent the Muslim population spread out around the world that harbour nothing but feelings of sympathy with the 9/11 victims.
So if we are deemed to be a nation that honours its constitution and laws we must not stand so fiercely against people’s rights to freedom of thought and freedom of worship, we must, on the contrary, accept these people and try to integrate them more and more into our American culture and to let them sip in little by little our great American values.
And as for those who are trying to deracinate the problem from its context by suggesting that the centre be moved to another place from its actual intended place, I tell them that the problem lies not in where this Islamic centre lies but rather resides in the fact that America could be losing its long-standing values on which our forefathers found suitable ground to serve as an erecting place for this great nation, it also resides in the fact that our America could lose its cultural beauty which is only so because of the diversity that makes up its values, this artistic marvel that for years was able to integrate people of different walks of life without taking into account neither their race nor their religion. To end, as the Muslim communities around the world see it, preventing this cultural centre from ever existing would be asserting that Americans continue to associate Islam to terrorism and violence, for this we must ride the wave that brings rift into our strong united community and allow for this Islamic cultural centre to be, so America as we know it can continue to be the way we know it, the way our forefathers pictured it, America the message, America the promise, America, the model of coexistence and brotherhood.