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Cordoba House “Ground Zero Mosque”: PR & Path Forward Part-3 | Move, but for the “Right Price”

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MM’s Coverage of Park51 (Mislabeled “Ground Zero Mosque”)

Cordoba House “Ground Zero Mosque”: PR & Path Forward Part  1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Before I jump into the meat of the issue, it is important to lay some groundwork. As readers know from my previous article co-authored with Mohamed Elibiary, as well as my comments on the issue, I am a firm believer in the right of the Cordoba Initiative (CI) to build at the location where they have legally purchased private property. Most Muslims feel similarly, as we can see from one of our MM polls (unscientific no doubt, but relevant). Nearly 70% voted for Cordoba House to be constructed as planned, albeit half looking for a better PR strategy.

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Furthermore, I also believe that the party that is really insensitive in this issue is not the organization behind the community center, but rather the opposition, as they are essentially broad-brushing the entire Muslim population as being represented by the 911 hijackers. Otherwise, why would there be any resistance at all? If indeed, the two parties (hijackers and moderate Muslims) are essentially unique and distinct, then the fault of one cannot be blamed on the other. Just sharing the name of the religion would mean that Hitler’s Christianity tarnishes all Christians forever.

As the introspective article from Stephen Dill points out, CI unfortunately hasn’t done all that well with the PR situation, allowing islamophobes to make hay while the bad PR sunshine kept shining. In my humble opinion, I believe that the PR mess is nearly beyond salvage and it would take a miracle of sort to turn the public opinion around.

The question now is where to go from here? There really seem to be 3 choices:
1) Stay true to the course (with or without better PR)
2) Modify the Cordoba House plan to basically remove the mosque. This would be similar to what Iesa proposes in his article.
3) Move the project to a different location.

While both parties to the conflict have dug in their heels, the question that I’d like to raise with the Muslim audience and CI is “what is better for the Muslims of America?” Do we keep at it or do we consider other options?

We can all see that the situation has become so poisoned that the mosque has become a political football. It has permitted an unparalleled spewing of bigotry and hatred, masked in “911 sensitivity”. Marginal, extremist hate-mongers such as Geller of hate-site Atlas Shrugs, have achieved center-stage, and the mosque has literally become an opportunity to promote islamophobia at previously unscaleable heights. The Republican Party has thrown its weight behind the opposition, having all but given up on Muslims, partly due to prejudice in its own ranks, and partly due to immature Muslim political leadership. As the issue becomes a media circus, everyday Americans are finding themselves sharing the same stage, not only with many Republicans, but also with clear bigots and Islamophobes. This is allowing for hate-transfer at unprecedented levels. Distrust of Islam, already close to 40% in many pre-controversy polls, may well move to new highs.

Bottom-line, the situation does not bode well for an already tattered brand Islam.

Thus, it is really time to take the wind out of the Islamophobic sails, before the anti-Muslim sentiment makes inroads in the psyche of average Americans (Islamophobes will be Islamophobes, but our concern is the main street).

The question of considering options must also be firmly rooted in the age-old Islamic axiom: where the harm exceeds the benefit, look for other options. Clearly there is benefit in staying true to the project as-is. Muslims will assert their constitutional rights, and not allow for the setting of what would be a really bad precedent. On the other hand, the harm seems to be out of control, and the situation is making allies of “good” people with the haters. And in my mind, the balance has already been tipped towards harm over good.

Before I propose what some Muslims may not particularly like, I find it necessary to restate that Cordoba House has the full right to build where they are building, by all readings of the constitution of this country. I would also still support Cordoba House if they insist on staying put despite my disagreement.

Based on the harm vs. benefit paradigm, in my personal opinion (note: I am not speaking on behalf of MM), I feel that there is a better course of action, something a bit more novel, and that would be a variation of #3 above.

I propose that Cordoba Initiative consider moving its proposed community center to a different location BUT only if the following conditions (or some variation) are met. CI should consider auctioning off the property at Park 51 to one buyer who:
(i) obtains an equivalent replacement property in terms of size and future construction demands AND
(ii) this equivalent property is within 4-6 blocks of the current property AND
(iii) then swaps the equivalent property with CI for the Park #51 property AND
(iv) provides cash considerations in the range of $20-30 million to the seller (CI).

In other words, let the Islamophobes and self-proclaimed “sensitivity-police” put their money where their mouth is!

One may ask, is the increase in price fair? To which I respond, definitely more fair than the anti-CI campaign as well as the following legitimate reasons:
1) It is a private property, so the seller is free to set the price as the seller sees fit.
2) It is reasonable to assume that real estate drivers have added to the property’s intrinsic value, due to so much free publicity on the national scene! Everyone now knows where Park 51 is!
3) To compensate for the harm caused to Cordoba Initiative’s reputation, which may potentially make it difficult for the outfit to find alternative donors.

This solution offers Imam Rauf and his team the opportunity to throw the ball back into the opposition’s court, as well as an opportunity to take back the PR initiative. It offers the potential of a respectable exit, to build the same future community center within close proximity of the original location, and most importantly, a cash infusion of almost 20-30% of the funds needed for the project. Let those oppose the center help build it!

In closing, difficult situations require difficult and out of the box solutions. Some variation of the sales approach could help this political football to be thrown for a touchdown. A touchdown where both the opposition and the supporters have something to cheer for!

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Abu Reem is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Abu Reem is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

129 Comments

129 Comments

  1. Daughter of Adam (AS)

    August 19, 2010 at 12:36 AM

    If it is moved because:
    a) we are cognizant of the fact that people are sensitive about the issue even if the sensitivity isn’t very logical,
    b), we were trying to promote peace with the center anyway and obviously this isn’t causing peace but more dissent and cause of hatred,
    c) we can sell the land and find land somewhere else
    and d), this may really backlash badly later on…

    it sounds like hikmah to move.

    • Amad

      August 19, 2010 at 12:40 AM

      As I brace for backlash :), thanks DoA for starting us off on a positive footing.

      You bring up a good 4th point that I didn’t mention in the article. Even if this center is built, “revenge” will still lurk in the minds of the hardest of the opponents, and when you have 70% Americans on the other side, it may not be hard to find some who would resort to violence.

  2. Pingback: Cordoba House “Ground Zero Mosque”: PR & Path Forward Part-2 | Messaging Failures | MuslimMatters.org

  3. Pingback: Cordoba House “Ground Zero Mosque”: PR & Path Forward Part-1: Public Relations Analysis | MuslimMatters.org

  4. Taha A

    August 19, 2010 at 1:48 AM

    I have to say brother, i agree with your take on this fiasco. Maybe it is wiser to move to a different location and then it will put the ball in the oppositions . Also , i fear that if this cultural center is built it may be a security concern for those that attend the center and also Muslims around the country. We have seen already this year of individuals attacking/vandalizing masjids across the country. This may set of a new wave of attacks on Muslims

    • Amad

      August 19, 2010 at 2:00 AM

      wow, that’s 2 out of 2… how long will this trend last :)

      Btw, I’d urge everyone to vote in the new poll on the left. We are interested in the effectiveness of the arguments made over the last few days.

      jazakumallahkhair

  5. Haleh

    August 19, 2010 at 2:37 AM

    I think that you are providing a good alternative, Brother Amad. Everyone agrees that it is our constitutional right to build the mosque, but building it at all cost will have negative repercussions for sure. May Allah provide us with the best course of action.

    • Amad

      August 19, 2010 at 2:53 AM

      Good to see our chief pscyhologist agreeing :)

      I think even if the price tag that I suggested appears high, at least CI can throw it out there. This will they will demonstrate good-will. If no one takes up the offer, CI can’t be blamed for not trying! I really think there’s potential here…

  6. Amad

    August 19, 2010 at 2:54 AM

    Any suggestions how to send this article/proposal to the CI folks?

  7. abu Rumay-s.a.

    August 19, 2010 at 3:44 AM

    I think Amad’s proposal I-IV make a good sensible sales offer, I’m not sure if it will lessen the PR heat at the end of the day?

    It is the month of Ramadhan, the month of giving, the month of patience, the month of mercy, the month of sharing, My proposal to CI and its owners:

    Hire a top PR team and reconsider the idea of the mosque (to relocate) based solely on the premise that “Islam cares” even though we know by law we have the right to build a house of worship there, we extend our love and generosity out towards those who disagree with us.

    They can propose something like “In this blessed month of mercy and sharing, due to our moral value of respecting other citizens, we would like join hands with all the major groups to broker a fair and reasonable solution that will protect the Muslim’s right to build a place of prayer and at the same time respect the legitimate sensitivities of our nation due to the tragic loss of lives of Christians, Jews and Muslims, (and others) on Sept. 11″…

    I would especially pay due respect to the family members of those who lost their lives and get their input. Perhaps a Museum of “Hope” could be proposed to try to bridge the gap of misunderstanding between Islam and the West.

    tamim

    • Amad

      August 19, 2010 at 3:59 AM

      If you move, you deflate the PR heat’s entire premise is insensitivity of location. In the end, sensitivity is nice, but this is also about nuts and bolts of the project, and one can argue that the move has a cost, which has to be borne by someone.

      I like the museum of hope idea, as well as Iesa’s idea of a memorial to Muslims of 911… not enough has been done on this issue. But that is not exclusive to the move, it can be done at the new location. But funding two separate building, one for memorial/museum and one for the community center may be infeasible on many fronts.

  8. Ify Okoye

    August 19, 2010 at 4:00 AM

    I don’t think moving from Park 51 is a good idea. You don’t back down in the face of bigotry and hatred like Obama did from the iftar dinner to the tarmac, that’s cowardice and unprincipled. Especially, not in America. We fight for our place at the table like every other group and don’t wait for others to hand it to us because they’ll never hand it to you. When you get called the N-word, you don’t slink away, you stand your ground and challenge the person right back with hikmah. The two previous articles mentioned the strong messaging and PR missteps and failures, advice which still can be acted upon.

    As the anti-mosque everywhere campaign continues, there will no doubt be protests against a new location and more locations around the country, despite the closeness to “hallowed ground” nonsense arguments being made now. No protests about the other masajid in the area nor the shops and night clubs nor the strip club already there. The solution is not to keep moving at the demands of the bigoted or ignorant but to learn the lessons from this debacle and to assert our rights in a smart, pr savvy, and legal manner while building bridges.

    • Amad

      August 19, 2010 at 4:34 AM

      It’s all about timing. In my personal opinion, the timing is not right and in this case, not completely necessary, to take the stand. If things were done properly from the beginning in terms of PR, we may not have been in this mess, and I am not sure we all have to collectively bear the brunt for it.

      You have to be wise when to assert your rights. To stand up and make the adhan in a crowded terminal, may be perfectly within your rights, but probably not the wisest thing to do.

      • Ify Okoye

        August 19, 2010 at 10:28 PM

        It just seems too cowardly to move and not wise to back down to bullying of the masses, no different than Obama’s waffling nor the ADL’s stance. Dignity, integrity, and justice cannot be bought for 30 dollars nor 30 million nor by trying to appease those who wish to “terrorize” us into submission.

        It’s a typical immigrant stance, “if we acquiesce just enough, they may like or love us,” but you’re not going to win any friends, not any real friends, just some who will happily throw you under the bus at the next opportunity. That’s the story of this country, be steadfast or don’t cry when the call is raised to forcibly take away more of your rights. Your wife’s niqab and daughter’s hijab may very well be next.

        • Amad

          August 21, 2010 at 3:37 AM

          making this sound an immigrant vs indigenous paradigm of understanding is an unfair characterization… It takes away from objective evaluation and has a tinge of exclusivity that is problematic. You don’t have to be “indigenous” to understand the civil rights.

          • Ify Okoye

            August 21, 2010 at 9:03 AM

            Not unfair at all as they are not your civil rights Amad, they’re ours. And that is the classic immigrant trope key Muslim (immigrant) support for Bush in the 2000 election. People are always more apt to give up the rights of others cue this debate, that’s why the rights of the minority even in the face of majority opposition are enshrined in the constitution and Bill of Rights.

            In the 60’s, when the Loving case was decided at the Supreme Court, a majority of Americans were still opposed to interracial marriage now 40 years later we thank the Lovings for enduring the hardship and opposition and fighting against seemingly huge odds so that we can live in an America where interracial marriage is legal, protected, and more common than ever according to a recent survey. This is how civil rights are won in the US and there are countless other examples. While the examples from your side look like Neville Chamberlin and other failed appeasement tactics.

            You are living now outside the US, don’t believe you were born or raised here from your accent :) and don’t think you have a good understanding of the situation on the ground other than fluctuating poll numbers. I know you lived, went to school, and worked here for a good bit but this debate has become more than just about Park51 or its backers but about Muslim and American identity, values, and the way forward.

            You wish to back down, move, or take some monetary compensation. How far will you be willing to move and at what cost for the next attack about building other mosques elsewhere or as we can see in Europe and Canada will be against niqab?

            And by the way, I know you and some others make the ideas are judged by the “company you keep” argument, which I think is bogus, but turning it around, doesn’t it give you pause that siding with you on the “move” argument are the Islamophobes? I don’t buy the 70% of Americans number but even it were accurate, they’d still be in the wrong on this issue as so many other hostile majorities have been proven wrong by the longview of history.

          • Amad

            August 21, 2010 at 9:32 AM

            you are as wrong and condescending on this as you were on the asra-led mosque fitna… seriously get the chip off your shoulder sister…

            america is made with and upon immigrants as a whole… majority of muslim institutions were created by immigrants. Those who keep pushing divisive words are the problem. We need each other… Its about one ummah. And i am not sure how your background makes you an expert of civil rights relative to other immigrants. as far as I know you are a first gen american, so the difference between me and you is only where our fathers were born.

            Now I know you will keep insisting that this is suddenly all about the immigrant/indigenous paradigm, something totally new that you have injected, and will continue to insist until everyone else just gives up. And i won’t argue with you. Because I know its not true. My defense of the CI when I wrote the first article, and my defense within this article is clear. Most of those who are defending its right to build are also immigrants. So your theory doesn’t hold water against facts.

            Btw, even the CI people are immigrants. I know you know that.

          • Ify Okoye

            August 21, 2010 at 10:59 AM

            There’s no chip Amad except in your own mind and no condescension. I don’t think this issue has much to do with an immigrant/indigenous divide, yet the difference in views plays a part for some. In our Muslim community, there is no doubt some (often immigrants) who fear to be associated too closely with Muslim orgs or causes post-9/11 so they stay away or try to keep a low profile, change their names, take off their hijab or shave their beard, don’t speak up or go back overseas. Many are afraid to rock the boat so they keep quiet hoping no one will notice them. But for me and people like my parents and others, we stand up for justice and what’s right knowing the lessons of history. Moving Park51, puts us all (the next mosque, the next niqabi, the next Muslim immigrant or indigenous) in danger of losing the ability to practice our faith. I’m sure you see that from your view in Doha, couldn’t resist :) Happy Ramadan to you and your family.

            And 67% of those who voted on the MM poll agree with me.

        • JRL

          August 21, 2010 at 9:16 AM

          Thank you Ify Okoye, for your very reasonable stance on this issue.

          If anyone were doubtful about precedence being a problem: the Pope acquiesced to the accusation of “insensitivity” about there being a convent near the site of a concentration camp and now their “sensitivity” is being used to beat CI over the head about the location of Cordoba House. In both cases, “sensitivity” has been used as a veil for bigotry. I am Jewish and lost family during the Holocaust but will never fall so low as to use my family’s history as an excuse for treating anyone with disrespect. My mother always says, “two wrongs do not make a right” ; )

          in peace,
          Judith Levine

          • Ify Okoye

            August 21, 2010 at 9:37 AM

            Thank you Judith for continuing to share your views and bear the harms of engaging in the fray. It heartens me to be standing next you and others on this issue, despite our diverse backgrounds that we can still find common ground, which to me is what America is all about.

          • Safia Farole

            August 21, 2010 at 2:40 PM

            I felt its my responsbility as a Muslim and also as a contributor on this blog to remind everyone that we are all brothers and sisters in Islam. Lets not let this issue drive a rift between us. Thats the last thing we need. Lets agree to disagree when the time comes. But, lets not play into the hands of the zenophobes and Islamophobes by bickering among ourselves.

            Lets let our hard feelings go and focus on cooperation. I’m not suggesting we publicly cover up our disagreements, but lets keep it respectuful Inshallah. This is just my public nasiha for everyone. Ramadan Kareem!

    • Safia Farole

      August 19, 2010 at 1:24 PM

      I appreciate Br. Amad’s proposal. I think they are grounded in a genuine concern for the prosperity of Islam in NY and America as a whole. I understand the logic and I respect it. But, what I’m left with asking myself is: even taking into consideration that the PR went bad from the begining – would a Christian group wanting to build another church in the site have to even think about PR? You know what I mean? And not even that – what about ALL the other masajid in this country? What is going to happen if CI backs down and pulls the plug? You give them a finger, they’ll end up taking the whole hand. Not only do I believe that this is a constitutional issue, I think its equally about symbolism. If we back down here, what else are we going to have to compromise on? There are masajid in Tennessee and California (to name a few) already under siege.

      Your recommendation is thoughtful and well-meaning, but I think we should also broaden this discussion to the type of precedent this proposal (if acted on) would set.

      • asawb

        August 19, 2010 at 2:36 PM

        I agree with these sisters.

        Moving Park51 sets a dangerous precedent. If we’re willing to compromise on this, what happens to other mosque construction projects, like those in California, Tennessee, and Wisconsin? In fact, judging by those three mosques, I think it’s very clear that people are only using the location of Park51 as an excuse and veil for their bigotry.

        Lastly, we shouldn’t do stuff just for the sake of PR (like this proposal suggests). PR should never be the main goal; it should be a byproduct. These same people are against mosques on the other coast of America; what’s to say that they’ll be okay with CI moved a few blocks away?

        • asawb

          August 19, 2010 at 2:47 PM

          Just to add to my comment, moving Park51 [i]implies[/i] that there was something wrong with this location (when there isn’t).

    • Daughter of Adam (AS)

      August 19, 2010 at 6:26 PM

      that’s what the whole debate is about, isn’t it:

      to build or not to build *now* 1) if you STOP building now, it’s not really about whether the center is NEEDED or not there. the original intentions of the project are lost. now it is about- hmm, how much should we be sensitive and understanding and look at the overall benefit vs. when do we stop backing down? I understand people’s concern over the masjids in other cities- if we stop building this one then it will be like, oh, fine, as soon as they get pressured enough they get scared and we can completely finish them. but on the other hand, when do we be “generous”, and wise, and look for the overall benefit of the wider muslim community?

      ..if we had the project relocate we could be seen as respectful and not stubbornly one-way thinking and not only that, if we move, they can say NOTHING about that center AND we would also show that we can see their point of view (however biased it may be) and are willing to respect other peoples’ feelings.

      there is an argument almost for everything in islam: for the sake of relocation and to build unity between the muslims first, wouldn’t we be following the example of the truce of hudaibiyah? the prophet (SAW) let them remove bismillah.. rasulullah.. etc. from the terms of the agreement and let them put down their own unjust conditions. he (SAW) realized the wisdom behind this action at the time because the muslims needed that time- they were very weak and could’ve all been finished if not for that wise patience at the time.

      Allah knows best D:

    • Wael - IslamicAnswers.com

      August 21, 2010 at 1:00 AM

      Thank you to Ify Okoye, Safia Farole, Anne, and others, for grounding this issue in American experience and history. I don’t know your ethnic backgrounds, but those of us who are immigrant Muslims or of recent immigrant roots need to hear the voice of African-American experience, and the experience of minorities in general, in this matter. We have to look to the Civil Rights struggle and the lessons learned, namely lessons of nonviolent insistence on our rights, and not backing down in the face of hatred. The first African-Americans in white schools and white neighborhoods faced cross burnings and violence, but they paved the way for those who followed.

      Furthermore, we cannot buy into the “sensitivity” argument, as it is entirely based on conflating the Muslim citizenry of the USA with terrorists. If we agree that we need to be “sensitive” to the victims of 9-11, then we are essentially agreeing that we are of the same ilk as the terrorists, and therefore our presence would be offensive or hurtful. It’s a nonsense argument founded in bigotry and we must not acknowledge any validity in it.

      I agree that the masjid, if established in the proposed location, may become a target for violence against the Muslim community. That is a concern. The masjid may have to be vigilant with its security for some time. Every masjid should have a volunteer security force in any case. I have been to masjids where up to 20 men of the community have been trained as an informal security service, and at least two people stood discreetly in security at all times during Jum’ah and during public events, and I support that rigorousness fully. I’ve been in other masjids where the idea of volunteer security was non-existent, and when a problem occurred the community was completely at a loss, and highly vulnerable.

      In any case the furor would die down after some time. Like all media fireworks in this country, it would pass and eventually be forgotten by the public, and we Muslims would have set an important precedent of asserting our rights and taking our place in the American sphere of worship and activity.

      If the CI gives in and chooses another location, I can just see the scene in the future whenever a Muslim community anywhere applies to build a masjid. The local Islamophobes will attempt to shut them down, and the argument will be, “The New York Muslims moved their mosque, why can’t you be good citizens and move yours as well? Find some quiet, out-of-the-way location where we don’t have to look at you or be reminded that you exist. Have some sensitivity!”

      • Ify Okoye

        August 21, 2010 at 9:22 AM

        Really good points. I consider myself African American or Nigerian American. Born and raised in a small predominantly white suburb in New York, so no stranger to racism nor the impact of 9/11. My dad came to the US in the 60s and participated in the overthrow of British rule while in Nigeria and in the struggle for civil rights here in the US. He’s a professor of African and African American history so we received all of his classes around the dinner table and in the living room such as Institutional Racism, Apartheid Today, African and African American History, Africa Today and so on…which awakened my political and social activist mind at a budding age.

        Islamophobia like racism doesn’t discriminate from one person to the next, we are all lumped in, and our individuality is subsumed by the overwhelming negative ideas and associations in the mind. Those who wish to move today for one mosque because they don’t care for its founders or the location, how far will they be willing to go when the call is raised for other mosques or the hijab and niqab or anything else associated with Islam?

  9. BintKhalil

    August 19, 2010 at 5:35 AM

    Assalamu alaikum

    I completely agree with the article – brother Amad, I don’t think you need to hold your breath quite as much – I think there are more American Muslims who would agree than disagree. …which brings me to raise a point that is a bit of an aside. I think Muslim groups (with MM spearheading the effort inshaAllah) should use this opportunity to hold the American Muslim community’s feet to the fire to bring about a cohesive leadership – so that American Muslims don’t go renegade and come up with something that forces American Muslims to pick sides. I think this article describes this thought brilliantly, where the author talks about how the people behind Park51 have been so disconnected with the wider American Muslim community.

    • abu Rumay-s.a.

      August 19, 2010 at 6:16 AM

      jazak Allahu khairun for this important link..some of my sentiments exactly and alhamdulillah that Muslims have come forward to astutely point it out..

      For all their noble intentions, the individuals behind the proposed community center near Ground Zero failed to do one major thing before they presented their plans for their Muslim center, which would include a mosque, to city officials: they did not consult with other American Muslims.
      In doing so, they effectively cornered American Muslims into taking a position, especially once opposition to Park51 mounted. This was unfair to millions of American Muslims who are bystanders in what has become an attack on our religious freedoms.

      Which begs the question: If they didn’t expect this fallout, just how connected are Khan and Imam Abdul Rauf to the American Muslim community?

    • Amad

      August 19, 2010 at 6:51 AM

      Thanks for the article. Very good indeed.

      I appreciate your confidence in MM, but this will take orgs like ISNA/ICNA/MAS to really work out something. And I agree that if some outfit doesn’t take the time to build support with major Islamic orgs, then we shouldn’t be made hostage to their decision.

      wallahualam

  10. Maaz

    August 19, 2010 at 5:39 AM

    SubhanAllah, this is the solution I was propagating with my brothers and friends. Even before reading the article I voted for “Move for the “right price”” in the survey on the homepage. Hikmah tells us to make best use of this opportunity; I would say take a $150M and build 150 CI across USA. JazakAllah Khair Brother Amad for this insightful article.

    • Amad

      August 19, 2010 at 6:05 AM

      Brilliant… you are right about the 150 CIs , but then we’ll have 150 battles :)

  11. Zayna

    August 19, 2010 at 8:15 AM

    As a New Yorker, I voted to just move for senstivitiy even before I read the article. After reading, my vote still stands. Its not even about an Islamic center anymore, its spirled into this debacle that has put Muslims and the handful of supporters for this center against literally the rest of the world. Why? For what purpose? Let it go. Why fight the battle tooth and nail, tarnish the image of Muslims only to lose or even forfeit the war? And the option of just a memorial for 9/11 Muslims victims irked me. If this center goes up and is going to unify us as a nation, there should be no segregation. The memorial should stand as proof positive for everything good in Islam and condone the attack.

    • y

      August 19, 2010 at 10:28 AM

      You mean ‘condemn the attack’, not ‘condone the attack’. Quick correction.

      I agree, the memorial should be for both Muslims and non Muslims

      • Zayna

        August 19, 2010 at 2:37 PM

        thanks y! typo :)

    • Iesa Galloway

      August 19, 2010 at 1:00 PM

      I completely understand why a 9/11 memorial for Muslim victims only would bother you… I actually take heart that readers are irked by that idea.

      My suggestion was for a memorial for “Muslim victims of terror and the resulting cycles of violence. ” The difference is easy to over look but it is deep. There will be a 9/11 memorial and that memorial should be for everyone attacked. A memorial for Muslim victims of terrorism demonstrates that the terrorist are not on the side of Muslims or acting in accordance with Islam. That is a key underlying fear/idea that would cause someone to protest a Masjid. The blanket association of Muslims and Islam with terror has to be broken if progress is to be made in our relationships with our neighbors.

      Also the phrase “resulting cycles of violence” allows us to challenge hate crimes and targeting of Muslims in the proper context by memorializing those people attacked due to the same fear that drives opposition to Masajid and Muslims.

      Your response does encourage me in that I fear our community further self ghettoizing and or becoming a special interest group that will be in a constant cycle of conflict with the rest of the population. I do hope we can find creative ways reach the public and avoid the entitlement or victim mentality.

      Iesa

      • Zayna

        August 19, 2010 at 2:54 PM

        The underlying fear you mentioned is spot on, but it does not sit well with me. I understand your point, and as much as I would love to see a masjid there, I can’t bring myself to want it now, or even think about how this has divided our community, our families.. this is supposed unite us. And about the same fear that drives the opposition, its more than fear, and the more “they” keep at it, pushing this Islamic center this resentment is going to grow.

        And Ameen to your last line.

        Zayna

  12. Amal

    August 19, 2010 at 8:32 AM

    Remember Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) experienced a lot of obstacles in spreading Islam. Recall the spiritual journey of hijra the Prophet did with his companions from Mecca to Medina. If moving is the best option and will bring more benefits to the Muslim communities in America (insha Allah), why not take the chance? Moving doesn’t mean that CI and the Muslim communities in America have lost. There is a blessing in disguise, I believe. Allah knows what’s best for us all.

    We just have to keep praying and be patience.

  13. Driss - BostonMuslim

    August 19, 2010 at 8:34 AM

    I am really torn on this one. Amad, subconciously i agree with you and the centre should be moved for the sake of greater unity – even when you see people like Howard Dean coming against it, people i would not really call bigotted against Islam (i remember seeing him at an ISNA conference when he was running the DNC) you know your PR didn’t work and moving the center would be the right course.

    Having said that, it would pain me deeply because it will be seen as a victory for the bigots especially Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. But then again i ask myself why should i worry about what their reaction will be because as Muslims we all know that victory is only temporary. Trust in Allah and all will be fine

    In that sense, they should move it because they might be some true benefits

  14. Mustafa Stefan Dill

    August 19, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    brother Amad,
    great article and great ideas all around, everybody,. Wow. Too much here to chime in on right now— I’m on my way to work — but I’ll chew on this and respond this evening, insh’allah.

    Briefly, I like the proposal except for the last item ( the cash considerations). I think it places Muslisms in that ‘victim-entitlement’ mode thats thorny at best. On the other hand, i dont think CI/Park 51 should lose money on it nor profit unduly from the exchange either, so it would have to be played well.

    Whether or not CI/P51 agrees to it, I think this article itself should make some rounds as a way to show nonMuslim media the kind of internal discussions the ummah can have about these issues.

    more later,
    msd

  15. Farhan

    August 19, 2010 at 9:00 AM

    salaamz,
    With respect, I don’t agree at all. Stay on the path and don’t change. Make a decision and go with it. Backing down now would seem weak and would seem like a victory for the Islamo-phobes out there. In the long-run, it will become just another part of New York and may even function as a center for Da’wah, if not, changing people’s minds.

  16. Anne

    August 19, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    Salaam,

    If they move, will this not encourage the fringe groups who stirred this up in the first place to feel emboldened to continue their hate campaign against all Muslims? Say they move 6 blocks, you think it won’t be contested in the new location? Should Muslims across America simply give up on building new houses of worship in California, Tennessee and other places currently being contentiously fought by these fringe groups? Where will it end? Freedom to pratice religion is a constituional right.

    Side story- in 1925 the Klu Klux Klan burned a cross on the steps of the local Catholic Church here in the capitol of Vermont – because hating Catholics was in vogue at the time ( well anyone who was not White Christian). It took forever to even place a jury – because 50% of the townspeople thought the Klu Klux Klan was comprised of racist bigots and the other half thought they were God fearing patriotic Americans trying to uphold our freedom. People don’t remember history when their own ancestors were the feared group du jour. How many Americans would look back now and think the Klu Klux Klan were patriots fighting for the true American – not many I bet you. Years to come these fear based groups like ‘Stop the Islamization of America’ will go down in the annals of history for what they truly are.

    We should stand firm until this blows over. It isn’t at Ground Zero but several city blocks away and won’t be seen from Ground Zero. People would have to make a consicous effort to walk the several blocks to even see it. Relocating it says we agree there is something fundamentally wrong with Islam, that we Muslims collectively are responsible for 9/11 and we aren’t. We just aren’t.

    • Safia Farole

      August 19, 2010 at 1:30 PM

      This comment resonates with the one I made earlier about what will happen to all the other masajid under siege in the country. Its not even about “letting the opponents have a victory”, its about setting a precedent for the rights of our other brothers and sisters to be tarnished.

      • amad

        August 19, 2010 at 2:30 PM

        There are two issues on precedent (I mentioned it as one of the harms of moving so I did take it into account):
        1) This isn’t an “all-Muslim” project, but rather a project of a small group that didn’t get buy-in from major orgs and if you know the group, it is way to the left of center.
        2) The most pressure to move is coming from a very specific issue, and that is the site of 911. How many other sites are associated with bad memories about Muslims? I can’t think of another one. So, as long as the premise remains attached to this specific issue, some of the precedent concerns can be mitigated.

        The negative precedent can also be balanced by the positive precedent of having the haters be responsible for a big chunk of the funding. Every time they want to remind me to move, I’ll say “sure, give me 20% of the cash, equivalent place, and I’ll move”. The goal in the end is to have a center that serves the people it is intended for. As long as the location is consistent with this objective, then who cares where it is?? So, the precedent is in fact positive in some sense. You got what you wanted (pretty much) and you got the opposition to pay for it.

        There are times when compromises are necessary. The Prophet (S) signed the treaty of Hudaybiah, which wasn’t the most popular thing at the time either. You have to look at the situation and the context. For instance, I would never propose the same thing for the mosque in Tennessee, because it doesn’t have a connection that could be exploited to increase massive islamophobia. Or at least for most average Americans. Unless the TN mosque is given an equivalent plot of land close by and 20% down payment too :)

        We need to recognize that we are a very weak (politically and socially) group in America. We have to recognize our own weaknesses and capacities. We don’t need to push so hard that we break our entire American ummah’s back. Let’s build our capacities first, then we can fight the PR war properly and win hearts and minds to put a community center wherever there is private property available.

        • Daughter of Adam (AS)

          August 19, 2010 at 6:31 PM

          oops- I didn’t notice someone had already mentioned the treaty of hudaibiyah.

          :)

          exactly what was on my mind too.

    • shairmin

      August 19, 2010 at 2:35 PM

      Walaikum assalam wrwb,

      Alhamdullilah, I totally agree with sister anne. I think the mosque project should not be moved and it should stay in where it was planned. It is true that as American muslim we have the right to worship where we want and how we want, that is our constitutional right. We can’t give up right now after I saw and heard so many people working hurd to built this mosque. I mean the opposers should know that we as muslims have nothing to do with the 9.11 terror attack, and we as american muslims feel deeply hurted for what happened. We are against those people who spread hatrism arround the world. As Islam is a religion of peace. But these days I hear in the media that all muslims in general have something to do with that attack. I feel like sometimes that the opposers don’t have the issue of the fact that the mosque is being near ground zero, rather they have the issue with the religion Islam and the muslims building a mosque for the purpose of worship. It is the hate toward the religion rather then the location. I been listening to the opposers and that’s what I get from hearing them. Yes, as a believer we have to come with hikmah (wisdom). But I feel it is not the best thing to do by moving the location of the mosque, and Allahualam! And in this month of mercy, I pray that Allah helps us make a wise decision on this case. Ameen! As a believer we also believe in the destiny, so I believe that if this mosque is destined to be built in that location, then it will be built no matter what happens but if not then it will not be built and maybe there was something good in it.

  17. Driss - BostonMuslim

    August 19, 2010 at 1:30 PM

    I have thought this throughout the whole day and especially after watching this video of what’s actually what’s going on at Park51 right now – I SAY BUILD IT. anything else will be a victory for the bigots

    here is the video:
    http://www.time.com/time/video/player/0,32068,590040797001_2011959,00.html

    Whatever may come will come but we always trust in Allah, he is our protector.

  18. Safia Farole

    August 19, 2010 at 1:57 PM

    I’m not on a posting frenzy, but please read this everyone:

    “Bin Laden’s Rising Influence in America”:
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article26185.htm

    Money quote:
    “Are women traumatized by rape entitled to enforce male-free zones? Are Southern blacks traumatized by the legacy of slavery and segregation entitled to uproot white churches and communities? Are children traumatized by bullying entitled to ban everyone bigger than them?”

  19. Fahd

    August 19, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    Well written article Amad, and I was almost convinced. Our community certainly has been upended by this and forced to take sides on a battle we would rather not fight. However, as a result of what’s happening right now we DO have to take a stand, and that stand cannot be anything other than building at this site for one simple reason:

    Your proposal will not accomplish its goals.

    All of those opposing the building will also oppose compensating CI for their move. If there is one thing the hard right is against it’s any form of “appeasement” (which in and of itself draws an analogy to the Nazis). Yes, there are those who have already offered to make a deal with CI. However, if CI were to make moves to accept this both CI and those that made the offer would come under massive attack. CI would have to retreat further, and perhaps be forced to move without compensation.

    The Islamaphobia and the fight over Cordoba House are a temporary thing. It will pass, and it will be forgotten. I pray that Cordoba House will one day be a great institution – one that unites Muslims, and one that creates a channel for communication between American Muslims and the general public.

    Changing the plan therefore has only short-term benefits: to lessen the tension hoping to 1) reduce pressure on Muslims around the country and 2) help Muslim-friendly politicians in an election year. We can handle the pressure, insha Allah. The problems of the Democrats are their own making.

    One genuine downside is that it will be difficult to ensure the safety of the center/masjid/memorial to vandalism. I agree that some oddball out there may take up arms (break windows or use graffiti, no worse insha Allah). We can only make dua for its protection and do what we can in terms of hiring a security guard. This is not a large enough factor to change plans over.

    Continue the project. I agree that ISNA or CAIR must take over the PR and we must speak with a united voice. Modify the plan so that it includes a permanent memorial to the results of violence, featuring 9/11 prominently and standing out against the radicalization of Muslim youth.

    • amad

      August 19, 2010 at 2:35 PM

      If CI moves to compromise and it involves cash, they can fret and frown, but you can bet the PR tide will start turning. Right now, its about an “inflexible Muslim minority” that is holding it up against a majority that just wants a little “sensitivity” (that’s the setting, not my opinion of course). When you break the inflexibility premise, things will start moving in the positive direction. If you look at the comments on the ADL post by some of the non-Muslims, you’ll see the same theme.

      Americans know in their heart that their opposition isn’t really “American”, so they’re looking for a little gap to back down graciously. That’s my take.

      By the way, my gut tells me that the center will not happen at this location, I just hope that CI gets something out of it from the haters.

      • Fahd

        August 19, 2010 at 2:53 PM

        I agree that we need compromise, reconciliation, and sensitivity. I’m in favor a well-thought-out press conference that acknowledges in simple terms the reasons for the antipathy, genuinely THANKS those in the opposition that are civil for acknowledging our rights, and admits our wrongs in not realizing that it was “too soon” for many Americans.

        However, we should express our sensitivity with other actions. Positive actions. Dedicate the entire building to the cause against violence and extremism. Have public contests – open to muslims and non-muslims alike – for artwork and displays. The mosque and community center aspects can and should remain, but we DO need to acknowledge that being in the vicinity of Ground Zero it is fitting that there is a memorial against violence (9/11 in particular, but also more general) as well as a gallery where rotating artwork and displays can be shown. One more thing to draw in the general public.

        The memorial is there not because we are Muslims and responsible for 9/11. It is there because we are Americans and are still suffering from 9/11 today.

        I agree with Siraaj that this affair has helped separate out our friends and our antagonists. A sad day for those of us who are politically conservative.

        (btw thanks Siraaj for the article on health, and also for the older one on your blog about time management!)

        • Siraaj

          August 20, 2010 at 1:01 AM

          Glad you enjoyed them, keep me in your du’aas ;)

          Siraaj

  20. Siraaj

    August 19, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    The media response to this event has been interesting to watch. While we’ve known for a while that Fox News, and a number of hard right conservatives were simply closet neo-nazi’s minus the buzz cut, I’ve been impressed by the counter-response from the NY Times (Maureen Dowd), CNN (Anderson Cooper), MSNBC (Keith Olbermann and Joe Scarborough), and of course, the Daily Show (Jon Stewart).

    Initially, I would agree that this has been a PR fiasco, but as the story drags on, both the liberal and conservative sides are digging harder and harder into their positions, and as the liberal side keeps digging, they’re unearthing the depth of bigotry coming out of the far right, and the difficulty Muslims face not only in building outside of Ground Zero, but just about anywhere in the country. Conservatives have no answer for this and are on the run from these questions.

    Siraaj

  21. Ahmed

    August 19, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    I agree with Br. Fahd, this issue will eventually blow over. They just need to keep raising money for the project. Let the media jump on the next bandwagon issue and proceed as planned. This is not a national issue. It’s a local issue that has been mismanaged.

    I also agree that trying to “extort” money from the opposition to move, will not achieve the result we would hope for. People will spin it into Muslims taking advantage of the nation’s pain and suffering.

  22. JRL

    August 19, 2010 at 10:22 PM

    I hope it is ok for me to comment on this very important matter.

    May I just say how horrified I am that the extreme right wing of the Republican Party has taken it upon itself to revise the Constitution of the United States in the disingenuous name of ‘sensitivity’ and “good taste”. These were the epithets used against many of our heroes of civil rights. Rosa Parks’ decision to refuse to stand at the back of the bus when there were perfectly good seats up front that were empty was certainly not considered to be in “good taste”. Dr. Martin Luther King’s marches were not very “sensitive” to the morals of the white middle class of the south. The suffragettes who won women the right to vote were not very well thought of in “polite” society. What is insensitive is bigotry and hatred thinly disguised as “sensitivity” and “good taste”

    While I completely understand the impulse to flee this hatred, bigotry and unreasonable broad brushing of the peaceful Islam as practiced by every Muslim that I have ever known, I beg of you in the name of all that is good in this worldl to please consider standing tall, proud and firm with the organizers of Cordoba House in their bright and beautiful mission to redeem the peace of Islam from the terrorists who have highjacked it.

    To do other than this would be to give in to the extremists in this country and worse, to give in to “the Narrative” as told by the terrorists in their recruitment messages: it is to falsely confess that the United States is at war with Islam.

    Know that you are far from alone. There are thousands and thousands of people of many faiths who are doing their duty as proud Americans to support Cordoba House’s mission of peace and healing. I am one of them and I am Jewish.

    Ramadan Kareem.

    best, Judith Levine
    Fayetteville, Arkansas

    • Ify Okoye

      August 19, 2010 at 10:44 PM

      Welcome to the discussion, Judith. Thank you for the Ramadan greetings and the best to you as well. Excellent points and of course, please do feel free to comment any time.

      And I agree, it is rather horrifying to see the way the discourse post 9/11 has degenerated but there are many of us who intend to stand firm and shoulder to shoulder with our fellow Americans for what is right and just against those who wish to erode our nation’s core values.

      • JRL

        August 20, 2010 at 10:29 AM

        Thank you!

    • Amad

      August 20, 2010 at 5:43 AM

      Greetings Judith. Lovely of you to chime in.

      I appreciate your sentiments. In fact, some of the most heart-warming and eloquent defenses have come from non-Muslims. Who can forget Olbermann’s awesome “speech” on this.

      I would disagree that this is a “fleeing out of cowardice” act. Rather, we have to choose our battles wisely.

      I would also disagree with the comparison to Rosa Park. Suppose Rosa Park used a bus in an area where other African-Americans had actually murdered some whites. Her job would have been doubly hard, and perhaps her actual mission of standing up to discrimination would have been clouded by questions of her choice of the area, even maybe making the culprit out of the victim. That’s why I think the TN and CA mosques should stick to their guns, as the “sensitivity issue” cannot be exploited in those areas.

      Yes, I do believe the sensitivity issue in this is bogus, but it has nevertheless touched in a nerve in nearly 70% of Americans and New Yorkers. It is no longer limited to bigots and right-wing extremists, even if they are the ones who “packaged” the “sensitivity propaganda”.

      Location matters. Timing matters. Wisdom matters. Benefit vs. harm paradigm matters. Let’s wait for a better opportunity to take the stand. An opportunity where we prepare properly, use proper tools and have a community consensus on the idea itself.

      • JRL

        August 20, 2010 at 9:37 AM

        Amad,

        Thanks so much for your kind words. I appreciate being allowed to enter the conversation.

        I am very familiar with the concept of keeping a low profile, and with choosing one’s battles. It is not “cowardice” to flee a potential lethal situation… it is survival instinct and it is a very human response. But, in this instance, I truly believe that it behooves us all to look around us at the huge crowd of people standing with us on this one and to stare down the bullies.

        I also have experience with polls and statistics. I was not polled and I don’t know who was. I have read totally contradictory figures. But, even if these figures are accurate, human rights and especially the rights of minorities are not up for a popularity vote in the USA. They are enshrined in our constitution. It is no accident that they are part of the very first amendment. Religious freedom is what our country was founded on.

        best, Judith Levine

  23. Mustafa Stefan Dill

    August 20, 2010 at 2:32 AM

    Its a fine line indeed between sensitivity and weakness, a thin thread between giving in and being responsive. Still meditating on this one.

  24. darthvaider

    August 20, 2010 at 7:10 AM

    Jazak Allah khayr for the article Br. Amad. I like the thought, but dont think it would do much to improve CI’s image absent any real gesture that indicates they are interested in unity (although I guess it could be argued that moving in and of itself shows they are interested in unity…). Suppose they are able to sell for $150 mill- how much would it harm them to take a certain portion of that and donate it to the 9/11 memorial and museum being built? or perhaps to local food banks in NYC? or even interfaith organizations? The financial commitment would be negligible when considering the PR boost it would give them.

    Ultimately, any route thats taken has to be coupled with a strategic and well thought out PR campaign that leverages the positive elements of their position. If they stay, the message has to be one of being vigilant in the face of bigotry and not succumbing to political demagoguery; if they leave, they have to make it clear that the move is being done in the best interest of the nation and that they are interested in healing our nations religious divides. They would also be well served to thank their supporters, political pundits, and government officials, especially those who’ve gone to bat for CI while putting their own political futures at stake.

    How competent they are at handling the PR portion of the next step is about as critical as the decision they make. There’s little evidence as of yet to indicate that they can do that effectively, but inshaAllah they’ll handle it right. And Allah Knows Best.

    • Amad

      August 20, 2010 at 8:50 AM

      Agree. Good thoughts.

    • abu Rumay-s.a.

      August 20, 2010 at 4:47 PM

      DV – well said! PR appears to be pre-planned and now taking shape…it will be definitely be interesting to see how this unfolds…May Allah show us the truth as it is and guide us to it…ameen…

      NY mosque imam in Mideast for outreach tour

      The US State Department said Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf arrived in Bahrain for the start of a 15-day tour in which he is expected to discuss Muslim life in America and promote religious tolerance.

      The trip — estimated to cost about $16,000 — is funded by the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs and will include visits to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

  25. Umm Bilqis

    August 20, 2010 at 8:10 AM

    I agree with your stance.
    It would be in our best interests if the big Islamic organizations came to an consensus regarding this issue on whether it will further erode Muslim well being.
    If they do come to such an consensus, they could run an advertisement that states that they have issued advise asking the CI people to find another location.
    Not because of the fact that it is the right thing to do, but because of the Mass bigotry we are up against from the the politicians and media.
    In addition to exposing the widespread bigotry. The Muslim ad should highlight the civil rights violations that are being eroded by the bigoted politicians from both sides.
    If we do not shut this thing down the elections will be about the CI issue and more Islamophobia.

    When will Imam Rauf address these issues or is he still busy working for the state department?

    • Amad

      August 20, 2010 at 8:58 AM

      There are some big questions in my mind about Imam Rauf as well as big questions about the CI itself. I didn’t want to muddy it up with some serious concerns of why CI has so far remained completely aloof of major Muslim organizations. Are they being set up to “compete” for “hearts and minds” with the major Islamic orgs? Is there a deeper strategy behind this? Is the opposition stopping (ironically) what may have been their best bet to “mold” American Muslims into what they would actually prefer? Important questions indeed. Whatever ideology, Imam Rauf is as far from violent extremism as is OBL from pacifism, and we know that.

      However, my stance has always been one of principle. The right for Muslims (whatever ideology they may belong to) to have a place of worship at a legally acquired location. But that doesn’t mean we have to jump off the cliff with any group that takes up a pitched battle without consultation. Neither should we be afraid of compromises where the benefit is greater than harm.

  26. Imtiaz

    August 20, 2010 at 8:16 AM

    Regardless if you agree or disagree with the project. There are many muslims working downtown. For the longest time they are looking for a place to pray jummah – where will they go to get back to work given a one hour lunch ?

  27. Mansoor Ansari

    August 20, 2010 at 8:43 AM

    Stay put CI.

    All these talk of insensitivity & hollowed ground is a cover for the bigotry behind it.

    You know what has been built on hollowed ground, was insensitive & was a victory fort?
    This = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Embassy,_Baghdad

    • Amad

      August 20, 2010 at 9:01 AM

      As I said in my post, I agree that the party that is really insensitive is the opposition.

      But perception and reality don’t have to be on the same page. Muslims have lost the battle of perception on this one, and it has “become” sensitive to 70% Americans. That perception is the reality now.

      • Mansoor Ansari

        August 20, 2010 at 10:39 AM

        I completely agree with u on that!

  28. Umm Bilqis

    August 20, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    One decent non Muslim author said a statement that really got me thinking about this issue from a different angle.

    “oh….and if you want to destroy Islam…….promote its well-being in a way that is as offensive as possible to your own citizens.”

    Food for thought.

  29. Driss - BostonMuslim

    August 20, 2010 at 9:40 AM

    This is interesting. It seems Park51 or not we have a lot of work on our hands

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2010/08/islamic_cultural_centre_sorta_near_ground_zero

    for me what this tells me is that we the community center should actually be built at its original location to show people that there was no harm intended to begin with

    • JRL

      August 20, 2010 at 10:06 AM

      I agree.

  30. Amad

    August 20, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    What I am particularly pleased about is that between the two move choices (with or without “right price”), this option has nearly a third of the votes, a huge jump from the previous poll with essentially the same questions before the article :)

    • JRL

      August 20, 2010 at 10:24 AM

      I believe it is worth noting that with the exception of the ADL, every major Jewish organization has side with CI and taken the ADL to task for not doing so. Many major Christian organizations have as well.

      It is also worth noting that the Jewish community in the US did not want to “rock the boat” in the 1940s by making waves about what was happening to the Jews in Germany. By the time the US government came to the rescue it was too late for 6 million Jews and many more millions of Gypsies, Russians, homosexuals and political dissidents.

      Here are the famous words of Pastor Martin Neimoller

      When the Nazis came for the communists,
      I remained silent;
      I was not a communist.

      When they locked up the social democrats,
      I remained silent;
      I was not a social democrat.

      When they came for the trade unionists,
      I did not speak out;
      I was not a trade unionist.

      When they came for the Jews,
      I remained silent;
      I wasn’t a Jew.

      When they came for me,
      there was no one left to speak out.

      I sincerely hope that no Muslim organizations will go so far as to encourage CI to cede to the bigots. I feel this way about giving extremists what they want in any situation. I know this is a digression, but, I also believe there can be a peaceful negotiation between the Palestinians and the Israelis, but only if everyone refuses to cede to the extremists. When there is an abusive member of the family, even if that person refuses treatment, the family is advised to get treatment. Sometimes consensus is not possible.

  31. Mezba

    August 20, 2010 at 11:15 AM

    I think Amad, this video (by who else, Jon Stewart) should give you points to reconsider!

    http://tv.gawker.com/5617425/

    • Sayf

      August 20, 2010 at 11:47 AM

      Jon Stewart is on a roll.

    • Amad

      August 20, 2010 at 2:39 PM

      Actually, i posted this on my FB wall earlier today. More powerful messages from Jon were posted on MM here, where I posted a campaign to thank him for that.

      I fully appreciate CI’s position, but in my opinion, there is more harm than benefit in sticking up for it on this one. There will be battles ahead where odds will not be as stacked as high as they are now. I think we should wait for those.

      The link posted by Driss:
      http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2010/08/islamic_cultural_centre_sorta_near_ground_zero

      highlights what I fear, and what I mentioned in the post. Post-episode, Muslim unfavorability has tanked even further. One way to recapture some of what we lost, is to recognize that this isn’t just the radical right-wing extremists, but rather a spectrum of Americans who are at odds with us. If we lose allies across the spectrum, then we’ll be really suffering when we need a party to send with us.

      At least that’s my opinion. Wallahualam.

  32. Ali

    August 20, 2010 at 4:33 PM

    http://www.park51.org/facilities.htm

    I originally supported this project, but now I don’t really see the point of this. It’s no longer an “Islamic” community center, but just a “community center” with a prayer room. Soon they will remove the mosque portion, and all you will have left is a project with no clear vision. It will do nothing to help Muslim or the non-muslim community in NYC

  33. Yusuf

    August 20, 2010 at 4:34 PM

    Locals have nothing against it except single agenda journalists trying to earn brownie points from their masters. It is wrong to assume “backlash” will occur cos there isn’t.

  34. hamza21

    August 20, 2010 at 5:45 PM

    With it’s salafi-leanings I surprised MM would act so cowardly. Only coward would suggest someone run from a fight they can win. The subtext behind this article is “i don’t want white people to hate me”. At least Ify Okoye has some balls. You need to read and re-read her comment until your understand them. She speaks from history and experience not from fear and cowardice. Nothing has been accomplished by waiting for “permission” do to something.

    Did Imam Siraj Wahaj wait and ask permission to clean drug infested neighborhoods in Brooklyn?

    Another issue is your not so subtle assertion CI should take a bribe to move the Codroba House. Or another way to look at your proposal is for CI to extort money from it’s critics.

    A’oodhu Bilah!

    How could you say such a thing? Where are your morals?

    For God’s Sake use your aql and develop some backbone!!!

    • Ify Okoye

      August 20, 2010 at 6:43 PM

      Just a slight correction, this post is Amad’s not MM’s per se. Another MM writer Iesa posted his views in Part 2, which diverge from Amad’s views expressed in Part 3 and were I to post a Part 4, it would diverge from those two opinions as well. We don’t always agree amongst ourselves on MM but we do give our writers a wide latitude to write what they want, my Pray-In articles being a good example of that. And also Part 1, was a guest submission, which is part of the strength of MM, that we allow a variety of views on our website from a diverse pool of authors and not just one single dogmatic view. Even though, we may disagree, we try to do so respectfully and not let it harm the ties of kinship we have for each other as Muslim brothers and sisters.

    • Sayf

      August 20, 2010 at 8:46 PM

      It’s not that simple Hamza, remember the Treaty of Hudaibiyah seemed very Quraish-favored at the time.The point behind this is that there is definitely going to be other mosque-related hatred being spewed and this is a step back to catapult a stronger opposition for the other battles. If it is built, it will be fuel to the fire of those future battles. If it isn’t, it will completely undermine all of their emotional self-victimizing and make Muslims the “bigger man”.

      Mind you, this is while effectively stating in a press conference after the decision that “You guys are acting childish and are undermining the constitution, but we’ll be the adults here. It just cost us a few blocks, while this cost you your self-respect as a nation”. It will be very disarming and get a ton of people off their bandwagon once the focus/battle is shifted to other mosques and hate-crimes throughout the US provided the Muslims engage the media about them properly.

      Sometimes it’s best not to smash heads with a goat, take a step to the side and let it run into the wall and knock itself out.

      I would also like to point out I haven’t picked a position on this yet, but I see the wisdom behind both sides.

      • Mustafa Stefan Dill

        August 21, 2010 at 4:06 AM

        effectively stating in a press conference after the decision that “You guys are acting childish and are undermining the constitution, but we’ll be the adults here. It just cost us a few blocks, while this cost you your self-respect as a nation”. It will be very disarming and get a ton of people off their bandwagon once the focus/battle is shifted to other mosques and hate-crimes throughout the US provided the Muslims engage the media about them properly.

        alhamdulillah, that would be the ultimate effective message to deliver, IMO, and should perhaps be kept uppermost mind. What course of action is best suited to achieve that, I’m not sure — like you , I see wisdom and validity in both arguments. Perhaps there is a way to make such a message happen and not move the center — I havent thought that possibility through, but it will be interesting to apply some energy and thought to it.

        (I’m glad you posted that thought; it really resonates with some ideas I’m thinking through and got me going on a massive long answer that was digressing, so I’ll save that for a space where it wont distract from this topic).

        • hamza21

          August 21, 2010 at 9:54 PM

          Both of your responses show you clearly have dealt with bigots before. What you fail to understand is: if you give in…they will always expect you to. ..always.

          What you don’t realize is these people are bullies who will piss,moan and scream but in the end won’t do nothing. These people will not blow up the building, nor will they harm the imam. These people are cowards raging to scare you to back down.

          What it comes down to is you have no backbone. You have a deep desire to be liked. You don’t want stand up for something. You want a easy path.

          Sayf you mention Treaty of Hudaibiyah do understand the event that took place? do you understand the the prophet’s act (going to hajj) was too show Islam was a bonified arab religion not some foreign thing. The Makkans didn’t allow the prophet to make hajj that year but by the treaty they were able accomplish their goal. What the Muslims received went far more to accomplish this goal then attending Hajj could have ever done.

          What is the intention building a masjid at ground Zero? That Muslims should be allowed to build a masjid anywhere they choose.

          So I ask how is backing down accomplishing this intention and fulfilling this goal?

          Suck it man this ain’t the first battle we will have to fight. Stand up like man or coward like frighten little girl!!!!

          The Law is on the side of muslims. Any person or organization who interferes with their first amendment rights can be prosecuted under law. This is why there’s so much noise but no action on the part of the opponents. Their options are limited. Neither The President of the Us nor Governor of NY can force them to move. The only weapon the opponents have is using your fear of not being accepted against you.

          You need to read the history of Andalusia see how they were treated. It’s nothing in comparison to what were experiencing so what’s there to fear?..nothing…. just a bunch of people making noise.

          If a person like Imam Siraj Wahhaj or any other black Imam were leading CI they wouldn’t be so much controversy because they know can’t intimidate them (us).

  35. Bint Adam

    August 20, 2010 at 11:25 PM

    As-salaamu alaikum,

    Umm Bilgis’s post got me thinking,

    ““oh….and if you want to destroy Islam…….promote its well-being in a way that is as offensive as possible to your own citizens.”

    This statement really got me thinking. Honesty brothers and sisters. The people , the non Muslims who are pushing this project forward do they care about Islam and Muslims? Really? They are the same people who are pro abortion and pro Gay marriage. They are the same people who cant wait to “liberate” our beautiful sisters in niqab. These people really don’t care about freedom of religion!! They don’t care about religion at all!!

    Look at Obama giving approval in the presence of the Muslims and then the next morning taking it back…they don’t care about Muslims. If you consider the above statement I think about it like this.
    They are FORCING(in the guise of freedom of religion) the American public to swallow this pill (the Muslims) knowing that in the end the American public will just gag it up and NEVER swallow it again.

    Please brothers and sisters consider that this situation may be being painted as “victory over bigotry”. But please don’t trust them just cause they are patting us on the back telling us “aw your awright, we like you”. If “helping” us did not line up with their agenda they could care less about this Community Center or any other. I guess my point is we don’t have to do it just because someone says its our right we all know its our right, we don’t need CNN or ABC or FOX News:) to tell is its our right. Below are some interesting statements and a link to the article.

    “It will not occur to such innocent minds that this act of generosity towards Muslims is part of the global attack on Islamic countries, a Third World War……..which has already begun.

    Is there a contradiction between this act (that is already generating lots of usefully distracting rage, hot air and media column inches) and what the US government has being doing to Muslims all across the middle east?”

    http://kevboyle.blogspot.com/2010/08/ground-zero-mosque.html

    • Umm Bilqis

      August 21, 2010 at 2:07 AM

      Oh Bint Adam You found the decent non muslim whose quote got me thinking! : D
      Actually it was his articlee among others that got me thinking of letting go of this issue, but pursuing the same issues dealing with civil rights etc. For others mosques and with an ad.

    • JRL

      August 21, 2010 at 7:17 AM

      My Dear Bint Adam,

      I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. I beg of you to try to approach this issue by believing the best in me and I will do the same. Indeed I try to do this with every person with whom I try to have a conversation. I do have certain beliefs that I am told are common with “liberal” thinking. I believe that education is the key to making our world a better place. I believe in personal freedoms and equal rights for all without considering what my personal choices would be. I believe it is my duty as an American to uphold those rights and freedoms for myself but more importantly for others whose freedoms and rights are under attack unjustly. What those people choose to do with their freedoms and rights is completely up to them, but please understand that I have no further agenda. I will try to encourage EVERYONE to stand up for their own rights and for the rights of others, but I repeat, I have no further agenda. If I have come to this conclusion, it is because I have seen the peace of Islam and know personally that those who would paint all Muslims with the same brush they have painted all terrorists have never seen the peace of Islam. I am not a Muslim, but I have lived among Muslims and am honored to call them friends and even more honored to have them call me friend. We must all live together and trust that we will treat each other well and respectfully. May peace be with you and yours especially during this holy month of Ramadan.

      best, Judith Levine
      Fayetteville, Arkansas

      • Umm Bilqis

        August 21, 2010 at 7:43 AM

        Sr. Bint Adam, the reason I did not posted Kev’s blog is because I do not agree with all his ideas.
        Regarding the issue at hand:
        What is wrong with waging a PR battle for Civil rights and digging in> after relocating from this particular spot?

        Like a 2 part approach.
        Back down about this one because someone has already painted the wrong picture about it and not back down about any more issues dealing with Civil Rights after this.
        P.S Imam Rauf does not look like He will back down, perhaps we are wasting our time.
        However, he handles hecklers well.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xlXMZkF_4w

        • Bint Adam

          August 21, 2010 at 9:50 AM

          I don’t necessarily agree with the whole article either I just always post a link to the source of what I am quoting.

          • Umm Bilqis

            August 21, 2010 at 3:55 PM

            My dear Bint Adam, You are right! It is good to post links that are to articles that you quote.
            I was respecting MM policies about conspiracy sites. : D
            Plus I do not support all of his ideas as interesting as they are.
            The question Sister is whether The Republicans are now supporting the view that the War on Terror is a War on Islam.
            If so they should make it really official.
            Many suspected that this was the case however now it is being confirmed.
            The Republican stance confirms that U.S foreign policy is A new Crusade against Islam.

          • Amad

            August 22, 2010 at 5:23 AM

            That link escaped me. But in general, pls avoid any nutty websites links on MM, regardless of how good the quotes are.

    • JRL

      August 21, 2010 at 9:01 AM

      “the non Muslims who are pushing this project forward do they care about Islam and Muslims? Really? They are the same people who are pro abortion and pro Gay marriage. ”

      With all due respect, here is an article from the Associated Baptist Press. Certainly there is no question of how this organization stands on “abortion and… Gay marriage.”

      http://www.abpnews.com/content/view/5454/53/

      Just as you do not wish for anyone to paint you with a broad brush, please do not paint your supporter that way.

      in peace,
      Judith Levine

      • Umm Bilqis

        August 21, 2010 at 9:17 AM

        JRL, Bint Adam said that statement and I agree with you about not understanding what she meant, about that particular point. : D
        The sad thing about this whole thing is that the War on Terror has switched To an War On Islam.
        Thanks to the Far Right Bigots.
        May the terrorists who bring death to innocents come to justice. Insha’Allah.
        May Allaah The Just bring to justice those who believe that such ends justify the death of innocents as a means.
        May They be stopped in their tracks and May the good name of Islam be restored.

        And it will be restored God willing. Ameen.

      • Amad

        August 21, 2010 at 9:40 AM

        Thanks Judith. While I may disagree with you on the specific issue of what’s better: moving or staying, I do appreciate your comments and sentiments. It does a lot to destroy the black and white image extremists on both sides want to paint about muslims vs. non-muslims. You are a true American.

        • JRL

          August 22, 2010 at 5:42 AM

          Thank you, Amad, for your kind words. I very much appreciate the opportunity to participate in this conversation. It is refreshing to hear new points of view.

  36. abu Rumay-s.a.

    August 21, 2010 at 2:45 AM

    http://www.bostonherald.com/news/national/northeast/view.bg?articleid=1276126&srvc=rss

    Leader of controversial project takes U.S.-backed Mideast tour

    In Bahrain, Rauf said he has been working on a way to “Americanize Islam.” He did not elaborate, but said different interpretations of Islam exist around the world.
    “The same principles and rituals were everywhere, but what happened in different regions was there were different interpretations,” he said. “So we recognize that our heritage allows for re-expressing the internal principles of our religion in different cultural times and places.”

    i think Amad’s questions need to be answered and I’d be interested in a part IV to discuss this issue.

    There are some big questions in my mind about Imam Rauf as well as big questions about the CI itself. I didn’t want to muddy it up with some serious concerns of why CI has so far remained completely aloof of major Muslim organizations. Are they being set up to “compete” for “hearts and minds” with the major Islamic orgs? Is there a deeper strategy behind this? Is the opposition stopping (ironically) what may have been their best bet to “mold” American Muslims into what they would actually prefer? Important questions indeed

    The US State Department said Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf arrived in Bahrain for the start of a 15-day tour in which he is expected to discuss Muslim life in America and promote religious tolerance.

    The trip — estimated to cost about $16,000 — is funded by the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs and will include visits to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

    Karen Hughes: Move the New York City mosque, as a sign of unity
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/20/AR2010082002124.html?hpid=topnews

    • Amad

      August 21, 2010 at 3:31 AM

      there is no part 4 :)
      On further thought, I feel the questions are really irrelevant and I shouldn’t have had a need to raise them. Sorry. The question is of principle and I believe my position would have been exactly the same regardless of which part of the muslim spectrum that Imam rauf belongs to.

      • abu Rumay-s.a.

        August 21, 2010 at 5:35 AM

        I agree that issue is not really about Imam Rauf and what spectrum he belongs to or even the government sponsored trip.

        However, I think the questions you raised are not irrelevant and sooner or later all the Muslims will be asking the same questions because it can (or may) have significant implications on Muslims’ civil and religious rights or on the contrary it may improve the conditions (I hope and pray that it does).

        To me, one of the most important matters of principle these days is that Muslims need to think collectively and need to understand that their individual “choices/initiatives/actions” can have a profound affect on the Muslim community as a whole.

        Its kind of like the people who were on the old ship and they needed some water from the upper deck, they would have to go up and retrieve it. After this became tiring, one of the people of the lower deck suggested to make a hole in the lower deck so as not to harm the people of the upper deck in retrieving the water.

        So we can see that if we do not consult one another in important issues and decide on the general welfare of the “ship”, we may endanger sinking the whole ship and affect everyone on board.

        And Allah knows best, I pray that this whole issue turns out good for all the good doers..ameen…

  37. Jafar

    August 21, 2010 at 9:17 AM

    America is a country where the majority of its citizens have a hatred for Muslims and Islam frothing out of their mouths, the same people who a few hundred years ago were doing lynchings and killing of African Americans. A people who believe America is being invaded by Muslims who want to dismantle western civilization and establish what they consider brutal Shariah Law. A people who believe Obama is a secret Muslim working for some mysterious secret muslim group bent on taking over the world. A people who consider muslims as a whole responsible for 9/11. I am referring to White Middle America, who is the majority demographic in this country.

    Building a Masjid near Ground Zero will only be seen as putting salt in the wound by the kufar. They already hate muslims with a passion, and doing this would only increase their hate. There is no issue in building a masjid of course, but it must be taken into account, what is the effect of this action on the Ummah, I do not see how the kufar will take it any other way than as an insult. And this will damage the muslims relations with them.

    It is not the wisest thing. It will be seen as antagonistic and as instigation.

    • Ify Okoye

      August 21, 2010 at 9:31 AM

      I don’t believe that caricature of the majority of Americans is accurate. And if you really believe that is the view of the majority, why are you worried about what they see as an insult, as that would be our whole religion and existence? My dad mentions that when the buses were desegregated when he was in the South, he and his friends took pride in sitting in the front rows much to the chagrin of some of the white riders. Exercising rights is not about the majority, it’s about protecting the minority from that majority, forever apt to take away those rights from others.

    • JRL

      August 21, 2010 at 9:39 AM

      Dear Jafar,

      Please forgive me for brazenly disagreeing with you, but, NOT THE MAJORITY!!! a small sampling… only 1000 people were polled and they were the ones who would even reply to a poll. Most young Americans don’t even have a phone that is not a cell phone and polls may not be conducted on cell phones. The majority of American voters voted for a black man whose father was Muslim. It is horrible and disheartening to see the racist and Islamaphobic comments that follow each newspaper commentary about Cordoba House, but even so, they are a minority of all Americans, and certainly a minority of New Yorkers. I am of the kufar and I would never take Cordoba House as an insult. To the contrary. It will be a place of prayer and of learning and if there is anything we need more in this world, I don’t know what it is. There will be plenty from among the kufar who will be honored to be asked to be responsible for the security of Cordoba House and indeed of any Mosque or Muslim place of gathering. Please do not sell us all in the same load.

      in peace,
      Judith Levine

    • Amad

      August 21, 2010 at 9:43 AM

      I don’t particularly agree with your charged language. I think Judith’s comments show that this isn’t a “kuffar-hatred” thing.

      But I do agree its not the wisest thing. And I don’t care what people want to believe or not, statistics are without religion and without politics… they are pure numbers. And anyone who has knowledge of how statistics work, can see that multiple independent polls all pointing to the same thing cannot be wrong… that would be almost statistically impossible :)

      -Edited. Comment went under wrong name :) now fixed -amad

  38. Jafar

    August 21, 2010 at 10:04 AM

    I didn’t look at a poll and come to a conclusion, 4-5 keystrokes and polls can say what ever you want them to say. I have lived and grew up in the south as a white male. I have observed how people feel. Many white people still hate black folk. More so than not in my experience. People are not open about it because “the liberals” will make a big deal out of it. And the fact that they are unable to voice it, is further fuel to the fire.

    We are living in an idocracy. People who watch Fox and believe what they see. People who see an Arab gas station as an attack on the society. In the very same way that they see Mexicans working as an attack on the society. Everything America stood for, for these people, is fading away. America was a white mans country, and since its foundation slowly white people have been “loosing the country” to “brown people”.

    Think about the nature of this demographic. People who are staunchly Patriotic, with a fervent arrogance hardly matched. These are the same people who wrote that all men should be free, while at the same time not considering Africans as men, and, not seeing any issue with this contradiction. That is what they mean when they say they want to defend the ideals of America.

    Its not about rights, do you think these people care about rights? Joe Middlemerica Man could hardly care about you having your rights. These “rights” you mention are simply words written on paper by which mock- proceedings are derived. It should be feared that people will get violent if pushed too fast. And I think the building of this masjid here will push the can of beans to the precipice, if not knock them over completely.

    You gotta remember, these are the same people who send their sons over to Iraq, by which they come back with arms and legs missing, and a hatred for those that did this to their children.

    I think the situation is a lot worse than it appears to be. Anyone who has studied Islamic history, knows about the eminity between White Europeans and Muslims. Its been going on for over a thousand years. In Europe, everything I have mentioned is in place, only its a lot worse.

  39. JRL

    August 21, 2010 at 10:07 AM

    Ify Okoye, thank you so much for your kind words of welcome. I would have been proud to sit anywhere on the bus with anyone of any color!

    Umm Reem, unfortunately statistics can be made to say just about anything you want them to say. That may be counterintuitive, but that is the case.

    Blessings on all of you for your kind words and indulgence in allowing me to take part in this very important discussion.

    best,
    Judith Levine

    • Amad

      August 22, 2010 at 5:31 AM

      Judith, the comment you referred to was from me (not Umm Reem… accident name-switching).

      As someone who has studied statistics, I would refer you to this article on MM:
      http://muslimmatters.org/2009/05/12/understanding-polling-statistics-in-light-of-indian-elections/

      Yes, you can manipulate the answers by asking the question in a certain way. But based on my reading of the way the poll question was framed, I don’t see any manipulation.

      Finally, you may have missed this comment from me, but we really appreciate your contributions here. You and Chris Richards on another post, bring a fresh “outsider” perspective in that really helps transcend the discussion beyond the Muslim perspective.

      • JRL

        August 22, 2010 at 5:48 AM

        Thanks for these clarifications, Amad. I appreciate your careful analysis and again am most grateful to be able to participate in these conversations.

  40. Sayf

    August 21, 2010 at 4:18 PM

    I had an interesting thought recently. It makes a lot of sense why there would be a lot of anti-Muslim propaganda in our time (dehumanize the Palestinians / Iraqis / Afghans for easier support for the war), so turning the West against Muslims is something that I think everyone would agree was an obvious strategy.

    But what if part of the strategy was to turn Muslims against the West, make us feel unwanted/disconnected/hated, so that we don’t try to reach out to the people and garner support? An understanding between Muslims and the West would be really bad for Israeli foreign policy.

    • JRL

      August 21, 2010 at 5:14 PM

      Hmmm…. interesting thought, Sayf. I am not much one for conspiracy theories, but let us just say for argument’s sake that there is something in this:

      It has always been my contention that people of peace who are of different faiths have more in common with each other than do people of peace and people of war who happen to share a religion. So, if the above had any merit, in order to confound the warriors, we people of peace MUST STICK TOGETHER more now than ever before. We will have differences, of course, but the vision of peace that we share needs to be a big enough umbrella to shelter us all from any attacks by the warriors.

      Here is the problem with this: it is even further divisive at a time when we all need to be banded together in holding our leaders’ feet to the fire so that they will continue to build a world of peace and forsake the idea of a world at war.

      I believe that we all need to keep our eyes on the prize. I am very heartened by the upcoming direct peace talks between Abbas, Netanyahu and Obama. Yes, there are factions in all camps who do not want this to happen for whatever their reasons are. The idea of the Palestinian people being so close to having a country of their own is like the thought of a cool sip of water and the sweet taste of a date in the mouth. We must not let anything get in the way of these talks. Maybe they will fail. But, maybe they will work this time. There have never been even two out of three truly willing partners before. Now there are at least two. Sometimes it is the strangest of participants who are able to accomplish unexpected things… look at Nixon in China. Who would have thought that one of the most conservative of our Presidents would be able to open diplomatic relations with the biggest communist regime on the planet?

      Jews know that Islam is not monolithic. Muslims know that Judaism is not monolithic. A majority of Israelis and Palestinians want peace. A majority of Jews and Muslims want peace. Let us not be held hostage by those who wish to continue to wage war for whatever agenda.

      I hope that by speaking boldly I have not offended anyone here. It is not my intention.
      May your Iftar be refreshing and your fasting tomorrow be easy.

      best,
      Judith Levine

      • Sayf

        August 22, 2010 at 2:50 PM

        I’m not one for conspiracy theories either :P. It’s pretty well established that with war comes propaganda (CBC had an excellent doc on this regarding WWII), human beings aren’t programmed to kill each other, so naturally some sort of dehumanizing takes place. If the media really was unbiased, then this video exposing Netanyahu would have been thoroughly discussed on every single news channel:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6KLFrye9Xk

        The point I was trying to make is that it’s very easy for Muslims to look at other people and say the media has fed them lies against us – it was a bit of a twist to think maybe it had the other psychological effect of turning me against you.

        Regardless, our discussion and your kind words are a testament to its ineffectiveness. Don’t worry too much about offending anyone, your comments bring refreshing insight to the conversation.

  41. Jafar

    August 21, 2010 at 10:23 PM

    The Muslims have always been seen as an enemy to the west. This isn’t something new. The fact of the matter is that Allah revealed that no kufar will be satisfied with the Muslims until the muslims leave Islam. And that is the bottom line, the crux of why there is enmity in the first place. History shows an ebb and flow between the interactions of Muslims and western kufar. And we are in a spot where there is very great tension. And it will only get worse, as the Prophet has told us. We must strive to ease the pressure as much as we can. But we won’t be able to turn the situation around, this is what the Mahdi and return of Prophet Issa is for. All we can do is have wisdom and continue the da3wah in a way that brings about the least amount of instigation.

    They are upset about the masjid because they don’t want muslims to teach people about Islam. It is harram to stop the da3wah as a whole. So we must be as wise as possible and move in a manner that least upsets those around us, without being apologetic.

    • Erin

      September 17, 2010 at 2:32 AM

      Thank you for your comments very wise we must always remember the teachings of the Prophet (SAW) in our actions and conversations

  42. JRL

    August 22, 2010 at 6:19 AM

    “Martin Luther King Jr. tells us why the mosque must be built”
    By Stephanie J. Jones
    Saturday, August 21, 2010

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/20/AR2010082004795.html

    I think this is an important article. The writer, a public affairs and government relations strategist, was executive director of the National Urban League Policy Institute from 2005 to 2010.

  43. Umm Bilqis

    August 22, 2010 at 2:08 PM

    It is wrong to over emphasis American Islam at the expense of the unity of the Ummah.
    This characterization will not hurt the ummah but Muslims in America in the long run.

    In retrospect, Muslims in North America should have done more (then has been done) for the Rights of all those innocent captives in U.S jails all over the world such as Guantanamo and in the U.S itself.
    At least The Muslims in Britain have Raised funds and highlighted their stories through Cageprisoners dot com.

    Islam transcends national borders and has been witness to may nations that have disappeared into the dustbin of History.
    Especially when they engage in a War against Islam.
    Journalist William Rivers Pitt from Truthout wrote an article entitled,”Mosques, Muslims and America In Darkness.”

    http://www.truth-out.org/mosques-muslims-and-america-darkness62409

    • Amad

      August 22, 2010 at 2:28 PM

      Pls do not add unrelated and off-topic comments. This has nothing to do with “American Islam” and what Muslims in America are doing or not doing.

  44. Mansoor Ansari

    August 23, 2010 at 12:16 PM

    So is this a mosque or a community center with a prayer hall (Muslim YMCA)?

    From what I have seen in some other cities is that these ‘community centers’ when raising funds they say they are raising it for the masjid but as soon as there is any problem, they come out as say it’s not a masjid but a community center. And then go back to being a masjid when it comes to fund raising!!!

  45. Fahd

    August 23, 2010 at 2:25 PM

    You know… my really cynical side is starting to lean in favor of the status quo on this one.

    http://www.time.com/time/video/player/0,32068,590040797001_2011959,00.html (thanks to Driss for the link)

    Park51 is a masjid *today*. CI is proposing to raze it and build a multi-cultural community center to promote goodwill and understanding. There is clearly very little goodwill and understanding.

    Forget the community center.

    Just $5 million towards some basic renovations could make the existing building a much nicer for its existing purpose and take care of any safety issues. They want to keep the building as-is? Let’s do it.

    Yes – this definitely is my cynical side.

  46. JRL

    August 25, 2010 at 4:02 PM

    Daisy Kahn spoke most eloquently about Cordoba House:

    The Debate Over the Proposed Community Center in Downtown Manhattan (Audio)
    Speaker: Daisy Khan, Executive Director, American Society for Muslim Advancement
    Presider: Irina A. Faskianos, Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations
    August 25, 2010

    http://www.cfr.org/publication/22839/debate_over_the_proposed_community_center_in_downtown_manhattan_audio.html

  47. V. Hudson

    September 12, 2010 at 1:17 PM

    It’s not only The USA which opposes the building of Cordoba House near ground zero. There is anger and mistrust from much of the Western world towards this project and it’s relevant positioning and in turn towards Islamists as a whole.
    I agree with your sentiments that the tension surrounding this project has caused a hatred of Islam and it’s followers, regardless that moderates and extremists are essentially a different breed. Of course this is a naive and dangerous view. However, if the Islamic moderates (and lets face it, there are billions) publicly voiced their concern and requested it to be moved to a different location, then perhaps the West might take a different approach and once more become the ever appeasing and polite culture that once was.

    You can hardly blame the West for opposing what we see as a deliberate act of provocation towards the Western world in the aftermath of the terrorist atrocity of 9/11. It’s seen as Islam sticking up two defiant fingers and declaring, ‘We penetrated your Western Utopia causing devastation and bloodshed and now we’ll rub salt into those still very raw wounds.’
    Also, the name Cordoba House has very significant meanings and implications. It’s seen as Islam declaring itself as superior to any other religions and as triumphant over all. The positioning of this Islamic centre is for certain a deliberate insult and the most insensitive of acts. It’s akin to peeing on someone’s grave!

    As to your suggestion it be moved elsewhere and sell the original site at an increased cost, Donald Trump recently proposed just that and offered to pay 25% above the original cost. Imam Faisal Rauf however reportedly declined the offer.

    One more point about this whole fiasco. In light of the recent and devastating floods in Pakistan, wouldn’t it have made more sense and be more befitting to donate the $100 million (which it will cost to build this Islamic centre) to this much needed cause. Afterall, these poor people are your Muslim brothers and sisters and if they didn’t drown at the outset, they are dying from disease and starvation now. You can pray anywhere to Allah, you don’t need another mosque/Islamic centre but these people can’t choose where they live.

  48. JRL

    September 12, 2010 at 2:39 PM

    To V. Hudson,

    “The USA” is no more monolithic than any other group of people. Certainly, the President of the United States supports the building of Cordoba House. The mayor of New York City and the majority of its residents do too. I am a proud American patriot and I support the building of Cordoba House.

    I am not clear about who this “we” is you are referring to. I see no deliberate provocation by the founders of Cordoba House. I suppose one could consider anyone who wishes to force a group of peaceful people to leave their own neighborhood of nearly three decades because of an imaginary slight by people who are not even their neighbors as some kind of provocation though.

    Did you know that the Muslim prayer room on the 17th floor of one of the towers was also destroyed in the terror attacks? Did you know that Imam Abdul Rauf lost members of his own congregation that day? That other members stood for hours handing out bottles of water to shell-shocked passers by on that day? That there were first responders from his congregation on that day? Did you know that the area of lower Manhattan where the towers were constructed was known as Little Syria and that Muslim presence there way predates the World Trade Center?

    The cost of moving Cordoba House away from it’s own neighborhood is not only measured in dollars. Much more importantly it is measured in loss of American values. Loss of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

    Cordoban Spain is a common memory of peaceful relations between Muslims, Jews and Christians which gave rise to a period of academic and scientific enlightenment, of which we are still reaping the benefits today. While Cordoba was under Muslim rule, things went well. Believe me, things didn’t go so well once Cordoba fell into Christian hands. You might want to look up the Spanish Inquisition.

    This said, the fate of Cordoba House is entirely up to the board of directors of the Cordoba Initiative. It is not a fiasco by any means. It has been an amazing opportunity for Americans of all faiths to provide their support and love for a minority community under attack by bigotry and ignorance.

    I believe it is my duty as a member of the American Jewish community to provide my support for this project and to protest the Islamophobic propaganda sweeping this country. The lack of support for minority communities in the 1930s in Germany is what allowed the Nazis to very nearly destroy my people. Never again. Not to my people or to anyone else.

    There has been an enormous outpouring of support for the victims of the flooding in Pakistan including support by Cordoba Initiative. You can also donate to this important relief project through Unicef or a number of other relief organizations.

    Hoping that the blessings of Ramadan are still with all my Muslim friends and an Eid Mubarak to all.

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