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Mother Jones: Ground Zero’s Slave Graves

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The outrage about the “ground zero mosque” has turned very ugly, as this video of this recent protest shows. People are calling Mohammed a pig. A New York City cab driverwas stabbed today after his passenger asked him if he was Muslim. But I find the righteous outrage of those contending the former World Trade Center site is “hallowed ground” amusing, because they have no idea just how right they are. Before the World Trade Center was even designed (with Islamic architectural elements, incidentally), the ground was indeed sacrosanct: The bones of some 20,000 African slaves are buried 25 feet below Lower Manhattan. As at least 10 percent of West African slaves in America were Muslims, it’s not out of bounds to extrapolate that ground zero itself was built on the bones of at least a few Muslim slaves. That is to say, hallowed Muslim ground.

or some time, activists, historians, and city officials have been working together toexcavate and preserve the bones of the slaves buried under present-day lower Manhattan. A recent excavation of a 14,000 square foot section of the six-acre burial ground found that 92 percent of the 419 skeletons were of African descent, and 40 percent were children under 12. The bones of the 419 slaves were eventually reinterred.

African slaves couldn’t be buried in New York City itself, so they were put to rest along the city’s then-northern border, near present-day Chambers Street. The exact borders of the burial ground are fuzzy, and experts say that without test digs, they won’t be able to tell how far it extends. The area they’ve excavated so far ends just a block or two from ground zero, but with the huge number of African slaves that lived and died in New Amsterdam, I find it hard to believe the burial grounds didn’t extend further.

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Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Muslim American born in Brooklyn, NY with Guyanese parents currently living in Virginia working full-time as a web developer.

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