Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mosque could help improve U.S., Islamic relations

9/11 hit us all hard. As we’re approaching the ninth anniversary of the attacks, the event is back in the news. And people from both sides are not shy about chiming in on the hottest issue: A Muslim mosque near the site.

A New York City panel cleared the way for a mosque and cultural center near Ground Zero. Many oppose the outrageous plan as a “glorification of murder,” while others say it promotes religious tolerance and understanding.

I’m sorry, I have to go with the latters on this one.

Just to be clear, the mosque will not be placed at Ground Zero, but in fact a few blocks away from the former World Trade Towers site.

Is it just because the terrorists happened to be Islamic? If a Christian extremist (yes, Christian extremists kill too) had attacked us, would those in opposition to the mosque also insist that it is insensitive to build another Christian church within a few blocks of Ground Zero? I would guess most would support the Christian church.

I can understand how the mosque’s presence could hurt a few of folks directly related to the attacks. Sarah Palin is maybe one of the loudest in opposition to the mosque. She says the mosque will hinder the nation’s ability to heal, as she so eloquently posted via Twitter: “Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing.”

But, in fact, the opposite may be true. The mosque and cultural center will help heal the unknown victims of the attacks: the Muslim Americans, many of whom felt the need to hide away in their homes post-9/11. It’s they who have been under attack since Sept. 11, 2001. It shows the 1.5 million U.S. Muslims that the majority of the country understands the term “Muslim” is not synonymous with “terrorist,” and that we do in fact support them and their faith.

To me the initiative says that we understand those attacks were committed out of ignorance and religious intolerance, but the United States is above that. We support the free practice of religion. It is among our nation’s foundation, and it is something we will support and defend above all else.

I applaud Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the New York panel and all who can see that beyond all this is actually the chance for the country to continue to heal, learn and reach out. Congratulations.

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