Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Ground Zero Mosque" or Pentagon Chapel?

Just weeks away from the 9-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks, controversy brews in New York City over the building of an Islamic cultural center at Park51, nearly two blocks away from Ground Zero, where 2,700 people were killed.

The measure was taken to the city's Landmark's Preservation Commission, which approved the building of the cultural center 9-0, said the New York Times.

According to, the vision of the community center includes, "pluralism, service, arts and culture, education and empowerment, appreciation for our city and a deep respect for our planet," to allow an "accessible platform for conversations across our identities."

Those who lost loved ones, neighbors and Republicans have been opposing the building of the cultural center - noting sensitivity issues such as "giving the terrorists a reason to cheer" being one of the main concerns.

Supporters have raised the flag of tolerance for religion freedom.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York said, Muslims have the right to practice religious freedom, reported the Huffington Post.

"We may not always agree with every one of our neighbors. That's life and it's part of living in such a diverse and dense city. But we also recognize that part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11," he said.

"Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11 and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values - and play into our enemies' hands - if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists - and we should not stand for that."

President Barack Obama echoed the message of religious freedom, putting the issue of whether to continue the project, on a national scale.

"Ground Zero is indeed hallowed ground. But let me be clear. As a citizen and as president, I believe that Muslims have the right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country, and that includes the right to build a place of worship in a community center on private property in lower Manhattan," said the president, reported the Voice of America News.

While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she supports the constitutional right to freedom of religion, she is concerned about the funds of the project, reported CBS News.

"Pelosi told KCBS is San Francisco yesterday that she joins "those who have called for looking into how is this opposition to the mosque being funded." She added: "How is this being ginned up?"

In a follow-up statement today on the project - an Islamic cultural center that includes a mosque called the Cordoba House that would be built two blocks from the site of the Sept. 11 attacks - Pelosi said the location of the project is a "local decision," though "the freedom of religion is a Constitutional right."

She said that she agrees with the Interfaith Alliance and Anti-Defamation League that the funding for the project should be transparent, as well as this portion of a statement from those groups: "At the same time, we should also ask who is funding the attacks against the construction of the center."

From a different set of eyes

While all eyes are on Ground Zero, Muslims are praying freely at the Pentagon Memorial Chapel, where 184 people were killed on September 11, 2001, reported

The building was created in November 2002, giving space to all religious groups to practice freely.

"United in memory, September 11, 2001," it reads.

"The chapel contains 80 seats and has regularly scheduled religious services on weekdays, including Catholic confession and Mass, a Jewish service and Torah study, a Hindu service, a Mormon service and services for other Christian denominations, along with the Muslim prayer service.

"I've never had a question about it" in four-plus years at the Pentagon, Army spokesman George Wright said.

The Army culture of religious freedom dates back to the Revolutionary War, Wright said, describing it as "a big tent."

"We're very tolerant here of one another and our faith," he said. "We don't keep track of who comes in."

Peace, Journalist.


supreem said...

sigh. it's so depressing. and frustrating... when something that seems so purely common sense, seems to elude the masses? i pray for our country.

Anonymous said...

^Agree with Reem. :(

Wasn't the name of the center changed to PARK51 because of the "controversy" over the name CORDOBA?

Here are some links for our readers to check out:

Allah knows best.

Thanks for this post. <3

somebody out there said...

Thank you for the clarification.
Here's another great TIMES article summing up the controversy:,8599,2011400,00.html


Kate said...

Thanks for putting more truth out there!

AL said...

so interesting. i did not know of the pentagon prayer house...

pilgrimchick said...

I think the idea of protesting this kind of thing is ridiculous. People have to stop equating "Muslim" with "Terrorist" or "the cause of the 9/11 disaster." Would we be protesting the building of a Christian church if the people who were involved in 9/11 were Christian? I don't think so.