Last updated on: 6/12/2012 10:25:57 AM PST
Is It Appropriate to Build a Muslim Community Center (aka the ''Ground Zero Mosque'') near the World Trade Center site?
Michael Bloomberg, MBA, Mayor of New York City, stated in his Aug. 3, 2010 Governors Island speech on the "Ground Zero Mosque," available at www.online.wsj.com:
"Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question – should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here [in the US]. This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions, or favor one over another."
Aug. 3, 2010 - Michael Bloomberg, MBA
Muhammad Ali Hasan, MFA, Co-Founder of Muslims for America (formerly Muslims for Bush), wrote in his Aug. 2, 2010 Huffington Post article "Why I Support the Ground Zero Mosque":
"As an American, a Republican leader, and a practicing Muslim, I deeply support building this mosque.
Let's examine the facts: the Ground Zero mosque is not just a mosque, it is the Cordoba House, a community center that will provide meeting rooms, art exhibition galleries, a swimming pool, movie theaters, and bookstores, all in the heart of New York City, and all made freely available to the public...
Regardless of hurt feelings, one fact always remains -- Islam is as deeply sewn into the fabric of American history as the Confederate flag -- and that will never change.
I personally know many of the leaders behind the Cordoba House, and they are great Americans, whose good intentions reflect the idea that, while radical Islamists may have destroyed the World Trade Center, peaceful Muslims will now rebuild it, giving us a destination that is open to all, with tolerance and love as its goal."
Aug. 2, 2010 - Muhammad Ali Hasan, MFA
Ibrahim Ramey, Director of the Civil Rights Division of the Muslim American Society, stated in a July 15, 2010 CNN "Ground Zero Mosque" debate with Pamela Geller of Stop the Islamization of America:
"Muslims, like other people in America, have first amendment rights in terms of freedom of religion, but the more important thing is that we reject the notion of collective guilt. We are not collectively guilty for actions that are taken by some people in the name of Islam...
...Muslims have a legitimate role to play in the social fabric of this country and are a part of the interfaith mosaic of the United States. But more than that, I think that this particular group in the Cordoba Institute can do a huge amount of good, not only for Muslims in New York, but also for interfaith relations around the country."
July 15, 2010 - Ibrahim Ramey
Jerrold Nadler, JD, United States Representative (D-NY), released the following statement about the Cordoba House on Aug. 16, 2010, available at www.nadler.house.gov:
"As the Member of Congress who represents Lower Manhattan and Ground Zero, I... support our First Amendment rights of freedom of religion and separation of church and state. As I previously stated, government has no business deciding whether there should or should not be a Muslim house of worship near Ground Zero. The United States was founded on the principle of religious liberty and tolerance, and it is equally important 234 years later that we uphold this principle. Hate should have no place in America."
Aug. 16, 2010 - Jerrold Nadler, JD
Barack H. Obama, JD, 44th President of the United States, stated in his Aug. 13, 2010 Ramadan Dinner speech, available at www.whitehouse.gov:
"We must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of Lower Manhattan. The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. And the pain and the experience of suffering by those who lost loved ones is just unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. And Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.
But let me be clear. As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances."
Aug. 13, 2010 - Barack H. Obama, JD
Harold Attridge, PhD, Dean of Yale Divinity School, stated in an Aug. 18, 2010 TIME magazine article:
"We need to begin by recognizing that it was not the whole Muslim world that crashed into the Twin Towers on Sept. 11. It was a small fanatical group within Islam, and I think we need to stop demonizing the whole of the Islamic world because of the actions of Islamic radicals. I hope this project will go forward."
Aug. 18, 2010 - Harold Attridge, PhD
Colleen Kelly, member of 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, whose brother was killed in the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks, stated in her Aug. 18, 2010 City Conversations article:
"I believe this debate is more and more about religious intolerance, and less and less about sensitivities.
Thousands of decisions concerning 9-11 issues have already been made. With each decision, some family members are pleased, some are disappointed and some are heartbroken. Decisions regarding the building at 51 Park will be no different.
The Islamic cultural center has no current legal barriers. Nor are there cultural barriers, now that the Landmarks Commission ruled against landmark designation. So the argument against the cultural center boils down to two possibilities: sensitivities, or intolerance. That a number of 9-11 family members are sensitive to the proposed cultural center and mosque I can understand. I don't share the same sensitivity, but I can understand. I would ask those family members to meet with Imam Faisal and his wife Daisy, to hear of their project, and to begin the long, arduous process of converting their experience of a Muslim faith so horrifically distorted on 9-11, to an experience of a moderate and loving Islam. For those who oppose the building of the cultural center for reasons of religious intolerance, remember your roots. This is America. And the beauty of our Constitution not only allows for, but mandates separation of church and state."
Aug. 18, 2010 - Colleen Kelly
Feisal Abdul Rauf, MS, Imam and leader of the religious component of Park51, stated in his Sep. 7, 2010 New York Times article "Building on Faith":
"We are proceeding with the community center. More important, we are doing so with the support of the downtown community, government at all levels and leaders from across the religious spectrum, who will be our partners. I am convinced that it is the right thing to do for many reasons.
Above all, the project will amplify the multifaith approach that the Cordoba Initiative has deployed in concrete ways for years...
I am very sensitive to the feelings of the families of victims of 9/11, as are my fellow leaders of many faiths. We will accordingly seek the support of those families, and the support of our vibrant neighborhood, as we consider the ultimate plans for the community center. Our objective has always been to make this a center for unification and healing...
The wonderful outpouring of support for our right to build this community center from across the social, religious and political spectrum seriously undermines the ability of anti-American radicals to recruit young, impressionable Muslims by falsely claiming that America persecutes Muslims for their faith. These efforts by radicals at distortion endanger our national security and the personal security of Americans worldwide. This is why Americans must not back away from completion of this project. If we do, we cede the discourse and, essentially, our future to radicals on both sides."
Sep. 7, 2010 - Feisal Abdul Rauf, MS
Michael Kinnamon, PhD, Reverend and General Secretary for the National Council of Churches, stated in an Aug. 18, 2010 TIME magazine article titled "Many Religious Leaders Support Mosque":
"We've often heard, 'Why don't the moderate Muslim voices speak out against terrorism?' Well, here we have it: a center that's devoted to reconciliation that witnesses against terrorists and against Muslims who use the Islamic faith as a pretext for that. And yet we are shutting that voice — that makes no sense to me."
Aug. 18, 2010 - Michael Kinnamon, PhD
Ron Paul, MD, US Representative (R-TX), stated the following in an Aug. 23, 2010 article titled "Angry Ron Paul Defends Ground Zero Mosque," posted on www.newsmax.com:
"Defending the controversial use of property should be no more difficult than defending the 1st Amendment principle of defending controversial speech. But many conservatives and liberals do not want to diminish the hatred for Islam–the driving emotion that keeps us in the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia...
The outcry over the building of the mosque, near ground zero, implies that Islam alone was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. According to those who are condemning the building of the mosque, the nineteen suicide terrorists on 9/11 spoke for all Muslims. This is like blaming all Christians for the wars of aggression and occupation because some Christians supported the neo-conservative's aggressive wars."
Aug. 23, 2010 - Ron Paul, MD
Rudy Giuliani, JD, former Mayor of New York City, stated in an Aug. 2, 2010 interview on the Jeff Katz radio show:
"Not only is [the proposed location] exactly the wrong place, right at ground zero, but it’s a mosque supported by an imam who has a record of support for causes that were sympathetic with terrorism.
This is a desecration. Nobody would allow something like that at Pearl Harbor. Let’s have some respect for who died there and why they died there. Let's not put this off on some kind of politically correct theory.
[People] died there because of Islamic extremist terrorism. Islamic extremists are our enemy... [Opposition to the mosque] will not and should not insult any decent Muslim."
Aug. 2, 2010 - Rudy Giuliani, JD
The Muslim Canadian Congress, an organization representing Canadian Muslims pursuing "a liberal and secular society," wrote in its Aug. 9, 2010 article "Muslim Canadian Congress Urges New York's Ground-Zero Mosque Imam to Abandon Project," available at www.muslimcanadiancongress.org:
"The MCC challenges Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf about his claim that building the mosque will increase tolerance for Muslims when the evidence is the exact opposite...
If Imam Rauf is serious about building bridges, then he could have dedicated space in this so-called community centre to a Church and Synagogue, but he did not...
Even if the intention of the mosque organizers was noble, the negative reaction by the American people has ensured that if built, the mosque will remain a permanent sore point and a lightning rod for anti-Muslim feelings. For this reason alone, the project must be abandoned."
Aug. 9, 2010 - Muslim Canadian Congress
Stop the Islamization of America, an anti-radical Islam organization led by Pamela Geller, stated on its webpage titled "Protest the 911 Mega Mosque on Sunday June 6th," accessed Sep. 24, 2010:
"Building the Ground Zero mosque is not an issue of religious freedom, but of resisting an effort to insult the victims of 9/11 and to establish a beachhead for political Islam and Islamic supremacism in New York. Ground Zero mosque imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is an open proponent of Sharia, Islamic law, a system that denies the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law.
Abdul Rauf has said that an Islamic state can be established in more then just a single form or mold. It can be established through a kingdom or a democracy. The important issue is to establish the general fundamentals of Shariah that are required to govern. Thus it is clear that this mosque will teach Sharia, Islamic supremacism, and the denial of basic rights."
Sep. 24, 2010 - Stop the Islamization of America
Peter King, JD, United States Representative (R-NY) stated in an Aug. 15, 2010 interview on CNN, available at www.peteking.house.gov:
"They should listen to public opinion, they should listen to the deep wounds and anguish that this is causing to so many good people. And if the imam and the Muslim leadership in that community is so intent on building bridges, then they should voluntarily move the mosque away from ground zero and move it whether it's uptown or somewhere else, but move it away from that area, the same as the pope directed the Carmelite nuns to move a convent away from Auschwitz...
There is no doubt that to have a 13-story, $100-million edifice within two blocks of ground zero -- in fact, parts of the jets which crashed into the World Trade Center actually crashed into this building as well, that's how close it is to it -- is -- it does open the wounds. It does put salt in the wounds."
Aug. 15, 2010 - Peter King, JD
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued the following statement on July 28, 2010 titled "Statement on Islamic Community Center Near Ground Zero," available at www.adl.org:
"We regard freedom of religion as a cornerstone of the American democracy, and that freedom must include the right of all Americans – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other faiths – to build community centers and houses of worship.
We categorically reject appeals to bigotry on the basis of religion, and condemn those whose opposition to this proposed Islamic Center is a manifestation of such bigotry.
However, there are understandably strong passions and keen sensitivities surrounding the World Trade Center site. We are ever mindful of the tragedy which befell our nation there, the pain we all still feel – and especially the anguish of the families and friends of those who were killed on September 11, 2001.
The controversy which has emerged regarding the building of an Islamic Center at this location is counterproductive to the healing process. Therefore, under these unique circumstances, we believe the City of New York would be better served if an alternative location could be found."
July 28, 2010 - Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
Debra Burlingame, Co-founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America, whose brother was killed in the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks, stated in a May 14, 2010 interview with Fox News:
"This is a place which is 600 feet from where almost 3,000 people were torn to pieces by Islamic extremists...
...[I]t is incredibly insensitive and audacious really for them to build a mosque, not only on that site, but to do it specifically so that they could be in proximity to where that atrocity happened."
May 14, 2010 - Debra Burlingame
Howard Dean, MD, former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, stated in an Aug. 18, 2010 interview on New York's WABC-AM radio, available at www.cbsnews.com:
"There has to be a compromise here. This isn't about the rights of muslims... or anybody else to have a place to worship. It is something that we need to work out with people of good faith.... we have to understand that it [the mosque] is a real affront to people that lost their lives. Another site would be a better idea."
Aug. 18, 2010 - Howard Dean, MD
Abdul Al-Rahman al Rashid, Director of Al-Arabiya TV, wrote in his Aug. 16, 2010 London Daily Al-Shariq Al-Awsat column titled "A House of Worship or a Symbol of Destruction," available at www.aawsat.com:
"I cannot imagine that Muslims want a mosque on this particular site, because it will be turned into an arena for promoters of hatred, and a symbol of those who committed the crime...
...[T]he idea of the mosque specifically next to the destruction is not at all a clever deed. The last thing Muslims want today is to build just a religious center out of defiance to the others, or a symbolic mosque that people visit as a museum next to a cemetery.
...[S]ome Muslims will consider that building a mosque on this site immortalizes and commemorates what was done by the terrorists who committed their crime in the name of Islam. I do not think that the majority of Muslims want to build a symbol or a worship place that tomorrow might become a place about which the terrorists and their Muslim followers boast, and which will become a shrine for Islam haters whose aim is to turn the public opinion against Islam. This is what has started to happen now; they claim that there is a mosque being built over the corpses of 3,000 killed US citizens, who were buried alive by people chanting God is great, which is the same call that will be heard from the mosque."
Aug. 16, 2010 - Abdul Al-Rahman al Rashid
M. Zuhdi Jasser, MD, President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, stated in his May 24, 2010 New York Post article titled "Mosque Unbecoming":
"I am an American Muslim dedicated to defeating the ideology that fuels global Islamist terror -- political Islam. And I don't see such a 'center' actually fighting terrorism or being a very 'positive' addition near Ground Zero, no matter how well intentioned.
To put it bluntly, Ground Zero is the one place in America where Muslims should think less about teaching Islam and "our good side" and more about being American and fulfilling our responsibilities to confront the ideology of our enemies...
This is not about the building of a mosque or a religious facility. It is not about religious freedom. This is about a deep, soulful understanding of what happened to our country on 9/11.
When Americans are attacked, they come together as one, under one flag, under one law against a common enemy that we are not afraid to identify. Religious freedom is central to our nation - and that is why the location of this project is so misguided. Ground Zero is purely about being American. It can never be about being Muslim.
The World Trade Center site represents Ground Zero in America's war against radical Islamists who seek to destroy the American way of life. It is not ground zero of a cultural exchange."
May 24, 2010 - M. Zuhdi Jasser, MD
Newt Gingrich, PhD, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives (R-GA), stated during the Aug. 16, 2010 edition of Fox & Friends on Fox News, posted on the Media Matters for America website under the heading "Gingrich Compares NYC Islamic Community Center to 'Nazis' Putting a 'Sign Next to the Holocaust Museum'":
"Nazis don't have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington... [W]e would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor. There is no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center."
Aug. 16, 2010 - Newt Gingrich, PhD
Mitt Romney, JD, former Governor of Massachusetts, stated the following through his spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom, as quoted in an article by Ben Smith titled "2012ers on the Mosque," posted on www.politico.com on Aug. 10, 2010:
"Governor Romney opposes the construction of the mosque at Ground Zero. The wishes of the families of the deceased and the potential for extremists to use the mosque for global recruiting and propaganda compel rejection of this site."
Aug. 10, 2010 - Mitt Romney, JD