Megamosque to rise beside Ground Zero?
CORDOBA: Americans, especially New Yorkers, are grappling with the highly emotional question of whether or not to allow near Ground Zero the building of a megamosque packaged with an Islamic center originally called Córdoba House.
Ground Zero refers to the site of the World Trade Center twin towers that al-Queda terrorists destroyed by crashing jetliners into them on Sept. 11, 2001. Almost 3,000 persons were killed in that worst attack ever on the mainland US,
A number of Americans steeped in religious tolerance would allow Córdoba House (now renamed Park51 after its address on Park Place in Lower Manhattan, because of the emotional objections to “Córdoba”). But many others object.<
The Córdoba House, to cost $100 million, will be a 13-story glass and steel structure. Beside the mosque, it includes an auditorium, a performance arts theater, a fitness center, a swimming pool, children’s area, art studio, a food court, a 9/11 memorial, and prayer space for 2,000 people.
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PROS & CONS: Córdoba House would replace an old Italianate-style building damaged in the 9/11 attacks — if the building erected in the 1850s is not given a “landmark” status and thus preserved.
The center’s sponsors said its original name was meant to invoke 8th-11th Century Córdoba, in Spain, which they called a model of peaceful coexistence among Muslims, Christians and Jews. The center, they added, would be a platform for interfaith dialogue.
But opponents said the name recalls the Islamic conquest of the Christian city of Córdoba. Other objections refer to the lack of transparency in its funding, and the center’s nearness (two blocks) to Ground Zero.
Polls have shown that a majority of Americans and residents of New York State and New York City oppose the center’s being built near Ground Zero, while a majority of Manhattan residents allow it.
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PINOY MUSLIMS: Reacting to perceived threats and domestic police problems, some European countries have been reviewing their handling of Islamic inroads, as they have also started revising their immigration rules.
Here, we had a mini-controversy years ago when a mosque was proposed to be built in the Unimart area in Greenhills, San Juan, which has an unusual number of Muslim stallholders selling duty-free stuff.
An outcry from the generally Christian community shelved the idea.
But more than a decade ago in Quiapo, a “golden mosque” suddenly materialized without anybody sounding an alarm, or at least posting a notice. Now the Muslims eking out a living around it sometimes figure in police news stories.
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MY FEELING: New York is too distant for us Filipinos to bother with, but the issues of religious freedom, cultural diversity, and America’s being a nation of immigrants cannot but draw us into the debate.
My feeling from the very beginning was that the Córdoba House was just too close to the memorial being built on the WTC site. It seemed to me that Islamic proponents of the center were taking advantage of America’s democratic tolerance.
I could not compose my thoughts on the issue until I came upon the statement attributed to former Speaker Newt Gingrich objecting to it. I agree with him, especially on the lack of reciprocity and the center’s closeness to Ground Zero.
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NEWT’S OBJECTION: Here is Gingrich’s statement on Córdoba House:
“There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia . The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over.
“The proposed ‘Córdoba House’ overlooking the World Trade Center site — where a group of jihadists killed over 3000 Americans and destroyed one of our most famous landmarks — is a test of the timidity, passivity and historic ignorance of American elites.
“For example, most of them don’t understand that ‘Cordoba House’ is a deliberately insulting term. It refers to Córdoba, Spain — the capital of Muslim conquerors who symbolized their victory over the Christian Spaniards by transforming a church there into the world’s third-largest mosque complex.
“Today, some of the Mosque’s backers insist this term is being used to ‘symbolize inter-faith cooperation’ when, in fact, every Islamist in the world recognizes Córdoba as a symbol of Islamic conquest. It is a sign of their contempt for Americans and their confidence in our historic ignorance that they would deliberately insult us this way.
“Those Islamists and their apologists who argue for ‘religious toleration’ are arrogantly dishonest. They ignore the fact that more than 100 mosques already exist in New York City. Meanwhile, there are no churches or synagogues in all of Saudi Arabia. In fact no Christian or Jew can even enter Mecca. And they lecture us about tolerance.
“If the people behind the Cordoba House were serious about religious toleration, they would be imploring the Saudis, as fellow Muslims, to immediately open up Mecca to all and immediately announce their intention to allow non-Muslim houses of worship in the Kingdom. They should be asked by the news media if they would be willing to lead such a campaign.
“We have not been able to rebuild the World Trade Center in nine years. Now we are being told a 13-story, $100-million megamosque will be built within a year overlooking the site of the most devastating surprise attack in American history.
“Finally where is the money coming from? The people behind the Córdoba House refuse to reveal all their funding sources. America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization. Sadly, too many of our elites are the willing apologists for those who would destroy them if they could.
“No mosque. No self deception. No surrender.
“The time to take a stand is now — at this site on this issue.”
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