I’m going to be honest with you all – I thought the controversy for the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” would have died down by now. So I can’t help but be surprised that the backlash against this proposed facility is still persisting, despite the fact that the project has some very important allies, including Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg.
Here are a couple of quick facts:
-Park51, the proposed $100 million facility is not actually going to be built on Ground Zero, as the nickname would lead one to think. It’s actually a few blocks away. Lower Manhattan is small so the fact that it’s near the Ground Zero area is unavoidable.
-Park51 isn’t just for Muslims. Yes, there will be a mosque, but in only one part of the building. There will also be an auditorium, meeting spaces, a swimming pool, and many other features that can be utilized by the entire community of Lower Manhattan, not just the Muslim population.
-The Community Board of that area voted in approval for the facility.
-The majority of Manhattan residents approve of the project.
However, people have not only been protesting this place but protesting mosques all around the U.S. Also, in ‘retaliation’ of Park51, one church will be holding a Qur’an burning event on 9/11. In an article I read on Salon.com a couple of days ago, titled Mosque controversy is just the beginning, journalist Stephan Salisbury delves into why there’s something really wrong with with all the controversy surrounding the Ground Zero mosque, which isn’t quite a mosque and isn’t quite on Ground Zero:
There is a distinct creepiness to the controversy now raging around a proposed Islamic cultural center in Lower Manhattan. The angry “debate” over whether the building should exist has a kind of glitch-in-the-Matrix feel to it, leaving in its wake an aura of something-very-bad-about-to-happen…it’s the déjà-vu-ness of the controversy that kindles special unease, the sense that we’ve been here before as a country, and the realization that, for a decade, a significant number of our nation’s political leaders have been honing an anti-Muslim narrative, which fertilizes anti-Muslim sentiment to the point where it is now spreading like a toxic plume, uncapped and uncontrollable.
Later, he says:
The mosque controversy is not really about a mosque at all; it’s about the presence of Muslims in America, and the free-floating anxiety and fear that now dominate the nation’s psyche.
John Stewart of The Daily Show even commented about the Park51 debate a couple of nights ago:
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It’s all getting a little too weird. I live in the Bay Area in California, one of the most liberal places in this country, but I can’t help but feel some unease and be a bit wary of the increase of Islamophobia in the United States. InshAllah, I’m hoping things will get better soon.
Further reading: Read and interview of Sharif El-Gomal, one of Park51’s developers on Altmuslim . Also, Altmuslim just released a podcast in which the executive editors further discuss the Park51 controversy.