So regarding the last article I posted more information about the debate have emerged. One of the most interesting ones is that in actual fact the so called Ground Zero Mosque is actually a Muslim community centre. This changes things greatly as what was once portrayed as being just a worshipping place for Muslims to go to is in fact something that is more community focused. The Community centre will have a basketball court, a memorial site for the 9/11 victims and other recreational facilities as well as a place to for Muslims to worship. So this begs the question what is so profoundly wrong with the building of this so called community centre two districts *which in American terms is a rite old road trip away* from Ground Zero?
The image portrayed by some news outlets in America made it seem like a Taj-Mahal proportionate mosque was being built on the foundations of ground Zero itself. It says a lot that it took quiet a while for the news to filter out that the proposed building was actually a Muslim Community Centre. Is the fact that its a Muslim community centre that bothers people? Even though this community centre has in itself a memorial for the victims of 9/11 which in itself stresses the community focused aspect of the structure. Or is it because there are prayer facilities for Muslims available that make this idea such a heinous one? How far away from ground Zero do you need to be able to practice your faith freely or in this case, be a Muslim?
This all leads me to believe that most of the opposition voiced on this issue are less concerned about the actual building but more concerned about opposing Muslims themselves. This is exactly what I was arguing against in the previous article and it is the real underlying issue here. For some the Community centre is just a prop to give them reason to voice their hate and ignorance. Proof being the recent protests against this building in new York where people began heckling a passer-by who happened to look like a Muslim i.e. had a beard and happened to be a man of colour wearing an unfortunate looking hat, but who was in actual fact a carpenter. The carpenter throughout the confrontation stated he was not a Muslim but this fell on deaf ears and in the end he had to be escorted away for his own safety as the hecklers got more and more aggressive.
The most unfortunate thing of all are that those who where protesting where banding about signs that summed up the ignorance that some Americans today are left believing. Signs like ‘No mosque No jihad’ reflect the real problem here. Its the lack of clear and informed knowledge that is causing this uneasiness and fuelling this hate. Even 24% of Americans a survey has found recently still believe Obama is a Muslim. This fear mongering and uncertainty is driving community’s apart and is causing more problems than solutions by increasing tension and hostility. Extremism comes in all forms shapes and sizes and you don’t have to have a bomb strapped around you to fit this criteria. Extremism in all its forms should be combated and that includes people who hold racist and bigoted views. Fear and Ignorance compounded make up a lethal combination and this is being aided by right wing conservative politicians and networks like Sarah Palin, Fox News etc. who rather then address the facts as they are, are choosing to further cloud the water of the debate with misinformation to suit their own agenda.
But overall, I think this article sums up the debate about the ground zero ‘mosque’ more eloquently than me:
‘The most violent element in society is ignorance.’ ~Emma Goldman
Till next time