Thursday, July 29, 2010
No Mosque at Ground Zero
For me, building a mosque at Ground Zero in New York City is out of the question, and here's why.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, 19 Islamic fundamentalists slammed two jet airliners into the World Trade Center towers, murdering 2,750 people; 23 of those people worked for me. Thousands of New Yorkers and people all across America and around the world suffered the loss of family members and friends. For them, the memories of that shocking morning and their deep losses are no less vivid today than they were then. All Muslims are not terrorists, but those responsible for the slaughter of innocents on 9/11 were, in fact, Muslim, and that is something that the families and friends of those lost can never forget. That Muslim connection, like it or not, is always going to be there, burning in the hearts of those left behind.
I personally think they have suffered enough and we should not add to their grief and pain.
A proper respect for their feelings should prevent a building associated with the motivation for the attack from being built so near the one spot mourners should be able to go unchallenged to grieve over their dead. There are many other locations in New York City where the proposed mosque could be built. Indeed, there are already about 100 mosques in the city, where 600,000 to 800,000 Muslims worship daily. Unlike the proposed new structure, these mosques serve Muslims who live and work nearby. Few Muslims live or work near the location for the proposed mosque, raising the question, why must the new, 13-story mosque be built there? Is its purpose to be more than just a place of worship?
There are serious questions relating to the funding of this project, and those questions must be answered. Who is involved? Do they have any connection to terrorists or terrorist supporters and sympathizers? I'm also concerned about how the mosque will be perceived by Islamic radicals around the world. Will it be seen, as supporters of the mosque claim, as a demonstration of American religious tolerance, or will it become a symbol of Islamic radicals triumphantly imposing their extremist version of Islam on America through terror?
I believe the builders' true intent is to build this mosque as a permanent reminder to all of us of the damage done to us on 9/11. And that's what it will be, whether anyone has the courage to admit it or not.
In the aftermath of 9/11, we saw a spike in anti-Muslim incidents and I believe Americans will continue to understand that it is wrong to blame all Muslims for the sins of a radical few, but the proposed mosque may well become a target for those who will see it as a provocation. This could become an enormous security issue for the NYPD and other law enforcement authorities. Any violence directed at the mosque could easily generate an international incident that could further empower radical Islamists - just consider the deadly, world-wide fury aroused by the Dutch cartoons. We shouldn't alter our behavior to cower before terror threats, but we shouldn't set ourselves up to be exploited by those looking for supposed transgressions to avenge, either.
Lastly, supporters of the proposed mosque invoke freedom of religion. While I strongly believe in the freedoms our forefathers gave us in the U.S. Constitution, I believe that those politicians insisting on building such a controversial structure in such a sensitive location when there are less controversial and less sensitive alternatives are placing political correctness ahead of common sense and simple respect for the bereaved.
The real issue should be about what is the right thing to do and building this mosque so near Ground Zero is just wrong.
Posted by BERNARD B. KERIK at 6:29 AM