So the thing that caught my attention today was the recent debate going on in America over the proposed building of a mosque on private property near the area of Ground Zero. Obama himself made a speech about the issue stating that Muslims have the right to build a mosque near the site but did not state whether or not he believed it would be a good idea. The issue has divided many people in America with the majority against the proposed idea. The issue has also greatly divided those relatives who lost loved ones on the day of 9/11 with some in support of it claiming it showed the moderate side of Islam whilst others argued that this was grossly insensitive comment made by the president. The debate is a sensitive one and goes to the heart of the recent events surrounding Muslims and the West.
My view is in line with president Obama’s comment on the situation. It is inherently true that freedom to practice ones religion is enshrined in the American constitution. The government has no lawful right to interfere with peoples choice of religion and where and how they choose to practice their beliefs. The property, as stated before, is also being built on private land so the people are breaking no rule or law in wishing to build this mosque. That side there are two sides to this debate and what is important is to make sure that the views opposing the building of this mosque are rational arguments free of any racial or ill informed hate mongering. There are those relatives who have said that the building of this mosque would be an affront to all those who lost their lives on day of 9/11. This is a very insensitive and crass comment in itself to make as some of the people who did loose their lives where everyday lawful and moderate Muslims. Those who where attacked where not of one race, cultural, ethnic diversity or religion it was a mixture of Americans who lost their lives. So to claim to speak on behalf of all the relatives is something that should not be said so carelessly. Ones opinion on a matter is just that, ones opinion and making a blanket like comment should be avoided in respect for those who do not share your view but do share your sense of loss.
Another issue raised is that the building of this mosque will be a win and strike for the Jihadists who caused the 9/11 event. This is also a very dangerous argument as it tarnishes all Muslims with the same brush and claims that they are all one and the same. The majority of moderate Muslims should not be scapegoated because of the actions of a few misguided minority as doing this further isolates the community that the west needs to engage with effectively to combat the threat they face. It also gives more ammunition to those dangerous individuals who claim the west as having nothing but an anti-Islam rhetoric and who use this to misguide and recruit followers to their hate filled cause. The Muslims who are building this mosque have also clearly denounced terrorism in all its forms and stated their stance against these breed of Jihadists. They are also planning to help bridge the gap created by 9/11 between Muslim’s and the west through their foundation. It’s also highly doubtful that those who caused the destruction of 9/11 to occur would wisely and easily set up shop in the backyard of their crime scene as I am sure that if built this mosques activities will be to say the least closely monitored.
This said it doesn’t mean all opposition to the building of this mosque are invalid arguments as their are always two sides to any debate. The point that maybe this 100 million dollar megamosque should just be relocated a few blocks further down for tactical and significant reasons should not be ignored. Considering there is a strong majority opposition to this it might be in the interest of the Muslim leaders who are building the mosque to simply move the sight further as a sign of tolerance and respect to those who bear no ill will towards them but who do not support the location this mosque is being built near. They could therefore avoid adding fuel to the fire of tensions being felt in America over this decision. No added excuse should be given to alleviate any hatred or misgiving towards the Muslim community living in America. But that should also be under the condition that those who’s arguments are nothing less then racial and hate filled should have their ill informed views corrected. This debate should not just stop if this mosque is moved a couple of blocks further down as it is important to make sure that all Americans are not misinformed about a given race or creed of people.
We should not play into the hands of those extreme minorities on both sides of the spectrum who only seek to gain from hate and animosity being bred in a divided society. Tolerance is the key word here, those who oppose the building of this mosque should not oppose the fundamentals of the mosque itself but just the given location. And those who want to build the mosque must understand that a middle way should be adopted to appease both sides and to avoid any more animosity. The words of Mahatma Ghandi sum this up nicely:
“The need of the moment is not one religion, but mutual respect and tolerance of the devotees of the different religions.”
That’s all for today,
till next time.