Unless you have been spending a lot of time on some remote desert island in the middle of the Pacific ocean, you must be aware of the debate that is going on over plans to build a mosque in New York City near Ground Zero.
Those opposed say that it dishonors the memories of those killed on 9/11 to have a building that supports Islam so close to where so many died in the horrendous attacks on the World Trade Center. Some have even gone so far as to imply that there is something nefarious going on with the plans to build the mosque.
In a recent column in the Dallas Morning News, Zulfi Ahmed, an American who practices the Muslim faith of Islam, asked people to stop, take a deep breath, and consider this issue from another perspective – Freedom of Religion.
Like other people of his faith who have spoken out recently, Zulfi asks that we not appoint “guilt by association.” Just because the terrorists who blew up those buildings were of the Islam faith, that does not mean that all people who practice that religion are terrorists waiting for the next time to strike. It is a small group of extremists who support and propagate Jihad against the U.S. and other Western countries. Just like it is a small group of Catholic priests who abuse children, not every one that has a church next to a school playground.
Zulfi cites the numbers of mosques, temples, churches, and synagogues that are all “within a stone’s throw of each other” in the suburban town where he lives, making the point that religious freedom and tolerance is alive and well in some parts of the country.
He concludes by saying that “If as a nation we do not protect the legal rights of one minority, then all minorities will be at risk, eventually. What is being built in Manhattan is a cultural center, with a pool, community services facilities and outreach teams, not training grounds for suicidal al-Qaeda operatives of women-beating Taliban.”
So, what do you think? Is it insensitive to build the mosque so close to Ground Zero?