Personally speaking, I’m not in favor of expressing views that are not directly concerned with me and that too from thousands of miles away but since I am coming across so many views and counterviews on whether a mosque should be allowed near the 9/11 bombings or not I thought, well, let me do some vocal thinking.
First of all I’m not clear whether it is a mosque or a cultural center they are talking about. If it is a cultural center then I wonder what the point of opposing it is. A cultural center — if it is actually a cultural center — is a good place to raise awareness and reduce animosities and chunks of misinformation floating around. It may bring people from different races and creeds closer. In fact such a cultural center would be a fitting reply to the perpetrators of the bombings. Just because the idea of this cultural center is coming from Muslims it shouldn’t be opposed.
What if it is a mosque? Frankly, I have no idea what to say. I have no objection to people building mosques but — and I may be wrong — it may end up sending the wrong signals to those who support fanaticism. It’s like, “Our religion and approach eventually triumphs; we first brought down the buildings and now there is a mosque there.” It may end up being the greatest symbolic victory for terrorists.
I am not saying that since a few Muslims are fanatics so the remaining ones must live under restrictions — religious or social — but a mosque at or near ground zero will definitely send wrong signals and encourage more Muslim youths to take up arms against other religions and ideologies. This is such a simple thing and I wonder why nobody is talking about it. This has got nothing to do with freedom of expression or practicing religion, this is common sense.
Even for a while if we ignore the “sending a wrong signal” point, why many people may be opposed to this idea is because most of the Muslims — and this is a sad reality — don’t vociferously come forward to denounce the violent side of Islam but when it comes to participating in token gestures like building mosques and religion-centric cultural centers all of a sudden they develop loud voices. I think this is the basic problem: this duality. It is so uncommon for the Muslims to protest against violent Islamic acts that whenever they do it becomes a news. If they openly and routinely oppose violence like everybody else does they will automatically become a part of the global society and consequently people of other faiths and religions won’t look upon them as some race quietly condoning violence or promoting it.
I would also like to make another suggestion to my Muslim friends. Just as they support the idea of building mosques in non-Muslim countries they should also put pressure on Muslim countries to let people from other faiths build temples and churches in Muslim and Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, etc. This way it will become a two-way approach rather than always demanding without giving. If Muslims want to be embraced they must also learn to embrace.